Zimbabwe Electoral Commission says MDC-Alliance not barred from attending stakeholders meetings

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VOA – The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) says it has not barred any political party from attending provincial stakeholders’ meetings ahead of the 2023 harmonized elections.

In a statement signed by Chief Elections Officer, Utolile Silaigwana, ZEC said the meetings are expected to be held once a month in all provinces.

“All political parties and other stakeholders, including Civil Society Organisations will be invited to attend the provincial stakeholder engagements on a rotational basis once every month. Contrary to some press reports, no political party has been barred from attending these meetings which are currently in progress throughout the country.”

ZEC said due to the level 2 lockdown which is still in place and in compliance with the Commission’s Covid-19 Policy on Electoral Activities, strict coronavirus protocols will be adhered to during the meetings.

“This means that only a limited number of stakeholders will be invited each month. The Commission will ensure that all stakeholders get an opportunity to be invited at the roundtable whose purpose is to share information and discuss topical electoral issues. It is the Commissions mandate to interact with all stakeholders in an impartial manner.

“Members of the public are advised to desist from attributing to ZEC misinformation on social media calculated to tarnish the image of the Commission. Those that are aggrieved are urged to approach ZEC Provincial Elections Officers for resolution of any disputes in line with the letter and spirit of Multi Party Liaison Committee functions.”

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change Alliance led by Nelson Chamisa claimed this week that its members are being barred from attending the meetings.

Several opposition MDC Alliance activists, including Harare province’s Youth Assembly secretary Denford Ngadziore, and at least 10 journalists were arrested Thursday at the offices of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC)

In a statement, Councillor Kudzai Kadzombe of the Harare Province Women’s Assembly, said the MDC Alliance activists wanted to attend a stakeholders meeting convened by ZEC, focusing on the 2023 general elections.

“As the Harare Province Women’s Assembly we demand the immediate release of our youth secretary and all the innocent journalists. ZEC has been turned into a political weapon for the regime and this must be stopped,” said Kadzombe.

MDC Alliance activists were yesterday barred by ZEC from attending the meeting amid reports that the commission needed clearance from state security agents and other organs of the government before allowing the party’s followers to attend stakeholders’ meetings.

ZEC chairperson, Justice Priscilla Chigumba, was unreachable for comment as she was not responding to calls on her mobile phone.

ZEC argues that there is a dispute over the MDC Alliance name between Nelson Chamisa and Douglas Mwonzora of the MDC-T.

Mwonzora claims that he is the leader of the MDC Alliance.

Meanwhile, Parliament of Zimbabwe is expected to start conducting interviews to fill two ZEC positions. ZEC deputy chairperson, Emmanuel Magade, and Dr. Qhubani Moyo’s terms of office expired last month, prompting parliament to fill the posts as per the country’s constitution.

According to the state-controlled Herald newspaper, 24 Zimbabweans have applied for the two posts.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has the final say in the appointment of ZEC officials.

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