Mbohwa defends ZEC: They faced challenges in getting tools for elections because of sanctions

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Mbohwa defends ZEC: They faced challenges in getting tools for elections because of sanctions
Senator Maybe Mbohwa (with a red scarf)

Mbohwa defends ZEC: They faced challenges in getting tools for elections because of sanctions #ElectionsZW

Senator for Midlands Province Maybe Mbohwa (Zanu PF) has blamed sanctions for the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s (ZEC) failures in the 2023 general elections.

ZEC which is tasked with managing and organising elections in Zimbabwe came under fire from various stakeholders for failing to deliver credible, free and fair elections.

The election board was accused of dodging stakeholders, failing to provide election materials, and ensuring a level playing field, among many other things. These challenges resulted in several election observer missions producing negative reports on the 2023 general elections. However, Senator Maybe Mbohwa blames the issues of sanctions arguing that they brought a lot of challenges for ZEC.

Below is the full text of what Senator Mbohwa said during the debate of the 2023 Election Report (Courtesy of Parliament Hansard).

SENATOR MAYBE MBOHWA (MIDLANDS): Thank you, Mr. President, for allowing me to add my voice to the report that was tabled by the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs that relates to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission. I would like to thank the Hon. Minister for the report that he tabled.  The report was full of challenges that ZEC is facing, which requires the Government’s intervention.  ZEC is just like any other company or organisation who are facing challenges in getting tools of the trade to enable them to carry out their work properly which was caused by the illegal imposition of sanctions. I would also like to say that because of the challenges that we have, we now say that ZEC did not perform 100%, yet it had its challenges and limitations which were caused by inadequacies of funds. 

Mr. President, I would like, at this moment, to thank ZEC as a Commission for being able to carry out an election of high standards despite challenges.  ZEC delivered an election where no one contested the outcome. It is important to note that after an election, no one will litigate against you because they would have lost.  There was peace and tranquility in the country after the elections, people accepted the outcome.  It is unheard of, that once there is a contest, the one who loses will always say grapes are sour.  Even in football, that is found, it hurts a lot of people that after the election, there was peace and tranquility like people were at a church conference.  People wanted war to erupt and the burning of villages, but this did not happen.  This is indicative of an election that was well done, everything was as cool as ice.

ZEC started with the delimitation process; I was among those who were very vocal in our communal areas when certain wards were beyond the mountains and became part of another constituency. I was then asked a question when ZEC was doing the delimitation process, it was conducted in the presence of chiefs and there were village heads and also Senators were representing the Government.  So why did you not solve your problems there and then? When the delimitation exercise took place, the majority did not take a keen interest, we were bystanders.  No one contested until the report was tabled in this august House.  We were supposed to have nipped the problem in the bud, this is the problem of the people’s representatives and we can never fault ZEC on that one.

Going forward, I will come to the issue of the preparations for the elections.  It started with people who were issuing out the certificates and the registration exercise for voters and those who wanted to transfer from one constituency to the next.  We were also given a chance to correct any anomalies, no place was left behind in doing its preparations and ZEC did very well.

Furthermore, we are grateful that they sent people who conducted voter education.  I would like to thank the civil servants who went door to door urging people to register to vote so that they could exercise their right to vote. ZEC made proper preparations.

I will now deal with the issue of nomination courts. There was sufficient time, but others did not have money because 1000 USD was required.  It was difficult to come up with such a huge amount of money.  Once you want to become a people’s representative, you should also use your resources that you are capable of representing them.  If you want to be a president, you should also prove that by using your resources. 

I support ZEC 100% for the fees that they set for the nomination of a candidate.  ZEC extended the time because people were having problems.  People spent the whole night trying to register, with those who had no money trying to raise the money.  No one was turned away, but those that came after the deadline; Zimbabwean law then said they were able to stand and that they should be allowed to contest, that is how good the courts are. 

I would want to go back to the issue of the delimitation exercise.  That exercise was a huge challenge and ZEC did very well.  If you go to the rural areas and they have farms, the distance that would have been covered would have been equal to three towns.  If you were to equate them, the people are a scattered population and as a result, they would cover a lot of distance, which is why ZEC ended up coming up with areas where they would join peripheries in rural areas, hence the reason why there was plus or minus 25%.  Just like in Budiriro, 36 000 will be gathered within a very short distance.

The Constituency Development Funds that the rural Member of Parliament gets is equivalent to the one that is in the urban area.  I applaud ZEC for doing their best in trying to ensure that the issue of the numbers between rural and urban constituencies was attended to and that was not within the 20% plus and 25% minus. 

I would like to commend ZEC for the manner in which they ran the elections.  When a football match is being played between two opposing teams, when you go for half time, you are given tactics.  One should concentrate on their team and not what the other team is doing. ZEC has got nothing to do with the teams that were contesting in a football match.  Political parties were given equal chances to play. There was no party that was not given an equal opportunity as the agents representing each party were there in the polling station and no one was sent out.  All parties were present in the counting of votes and all parties participated equally until the ballot boxes reached the Command Centre. I would like to commend ZEC for a job well done and they did that at a higher standard. 

What I am thinking is that the Government should give ZEC sufficient funding in order to enable them to print ballot papers timeously.  They must have sufficient motor vehicles and fuel in order to curtail such activities.  Such challenges occurred in both rural and urban centres, but no constituency was discriminated against. ZEC attended to constituencies that failed to get voters’ roll in time and I want to commend them for that.  The election was run over for two days because of these challenges.  The hours for voting were extended to ensure that everyone had a chance to vote.  I thank you for the time that you have given me. I feel very proud about the work that ZEC did.  ZEC is one electoral board that does its work well, it was done in peace and was uncontested.

Mbohwa defends ZEC: They faced challenges in getting tools for elections because of sanctions