By Tichaona Sibanda
11 January 2013
A senior MDC-T official on Friday raised concern at the continued absence of the chairperson of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, saying it is a serious impediment to the electoral body’s operations at this crucial stage.
ZEC chairman, Justice Simpson Mtambanengwe, is reportedly spending most of his time in Namibia where he’s an acting Judge of the Supreme Court, he also currently heads a Ministry of Health commission of inquiry.
‘I think you can actually suspect that it’s a ZANU PF strategy to ensure that Justice Mtambanengwe is not involved in the nuts and bolts of ZEC’s operations,’ the official said.
Mtambanengwe’s absence was also mentioned in the latest report released by the Human Rights Watch (HRW). The rights watchdog said with the Judge based in Windhoek the electoral body was effectively being run by Joyce Kazembe, a strong Robert Mugabe ally.
HRW accuses Kazembe of being part of the discredited electoral commissions that presided over previous elections, which were marred by violence and voter intimidation.
Pedzisayi Ruhanya, a political analyst and director at the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute, is of the view that Mtambanengwe is having second thoughts about staying on in the job.
Ruhanya told SW Radio Africa’s Election Watch program on Friday that the Judge could be thinking of stepping down. ‘He’s of the view that if he keeps the job and his commission fails to deliver an independent electoral verdict, he will tarnish his image and as a lawyer, he would not want to be tainted,’ Ruhanya said.
It is known that despite the appointment of new commissioners, the secretariat staff is largely the same pro ZANU PF team that worked for previous commissions.
HRW said several senior ZEC staff are either serving or retired members of the security forces drawn from the Central Intelligence Organization (CIO), the army, and the police.