The Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) says the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) must put its house in order and deliver free and fair elections.
Addressing a press conference on the voter registration blitz update on Thursday, CCC National Spokesperson, Fadzai Mahere, said nothing should stand in the way of having a free and fair election, so the question of election readiness should be directed to ZEC, which is constitutionally mandated to run those elections.
“Anything that stands in the way of a free and fair election, should not be tolerated and it’s incumbent upon that state institution to comply with the constitution. The constitution is supreme, it has been done,” she said.
These remarks also come as the MDC-T, led by Douglas Mwonzora, filed a constitutional urgent motion to force ZEC to redo its delimitation process, which, if accepted by the court, might result in the postponement of elections.
Mahere explained that it was not the CCC’s duty to manage elections, but rather to mobilise citizens and make sure ethical and competent candidates were chosen by the people.
“Our responsibility is in getting ready to make sure we have an alternative policy plan and where it comes to our prerogative, as CCC we are ready,” said the national spokesperson, adding that this however did not take away the need for ZEC to reform.
“There must be reform in this country across all sectors but particularly in terms of the election and the state institutions who have the constitutional mandate for that. Those are people to whom the question should be directed. If they are not ready, what are they doing in the matter because you don’t have a choice in the matter. No one has the right to take away the citizens’ right to vote, it’s constitutionally enshrined.”
In keeping with ZEC’s purpose of remaining independent, Mahere stated CCC was pushing for the demilitarisation of the electoral body.
“I think CCC has been the only voice that has called for reform to ZEC, we have called for the ZEC secretariat to reform and in fact, we forced the admission on the part of ZEC to say the percentage of military or ex-military personnel that they had. That’s obviously something that is unconstitutional,” she said.
Mahere stated that even if CCC claims it is not prepared for the polls, that cannot prevent the elections from taking place.
“Even if the CCC were to say today, ‘we are not ready,’ though we are, that does not stop and cannot stand in the way of citizens’ right to vote. ZEC can’t take away the right to vote, Zanu PF can’t take away the right to vote. No person or institution has that sort of power,” Mahere said, highlighting that is why the opposition continues urging ZEC, the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission, Parliament and every other stakeholder to be ready for the upcoming election.
“Everybody must make sure they do what is required to be done so that we have a constitutional election that is free and fair. So that for once, we have a government that is voted in for the people, a government that puts the needs of the people first, does not only invests in cars but in ambulances, makes sure that health workers have what they need to deliver health care, makes sure education is taken care of, cares whether the masses eat, not a government where only a few people are looting gold. That is what we are fighting for.”
According to Mahere, it was the cycle of disputed elections that kept Zimbabwe in the current predicament.
“We are causing problems even beyond our borders. We are creating a whole migration crisis in South Africa and in other countries, that should not happen. It’s not normal as President Nelson Chamisa has said, to have five million of your citizens running away because they are hungry, can’t get power, running away from potholes, running away from beatings by police. You can’t have that in a constitutional democracy,” she said.
“We are sick and tired of Zimbabwe being the sick man of Africa, we need to restore our status as the jewel of Africa and that’s something that will be discussed at great length in our new Great Zimbabwe blueprint, the Restoration Agenda is key to a better Zimbabwe.”
On that point, the CCC national spokesperson advised people to keep registering to vote.
“If you are already registered, make sure to add five more people to the voters’ roll so that we become a nation for change,” Mahere said.