Consensus building has failed: Chigumba

By Staff Reporter

Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) chairperson Priscilla Chigumba says even though they have gone out of their in trying to be inclusive, it is now clear that consensus building has failed.

The commission has been engaging with the various stakeholders and political parties with a view to building consensus with regards to processes leading to the 2018 elections.

However, instead of finding each other, it is now evident that the rift is slowly growing especially with opposition parties and other civil society organisations that work and monitor election processes.

It is opposition parties view that ZEC is not being transparent enough with regards to the voters roll and printing of ballot papers.

MDC Alliance and United Democratic Movement have made it clear that they will not participate in elections whose ballot papers they did not agree to.

Speaking at her routine Monday media briefings at ZEC head office, Justice Chigumba said they are faced with a question of whether to continue engaging stakeholders or not.

“…the difficulty that we are having is that no one is satisfied, different political parties and different stakeholders want different things, now we tried to build consensus quite clearly we failed.

“The question that we need to have to sit down and debate as a commission is should we continue to try and build consensus given that whatever exercise we have done has failed to build consensus in the first place perhaps we should just stick to our very strict constitutional mandate and exclude everyone.

“These are things that we are going to sit down and discuss and then come back to stakeholders but at the moment we are aware that there is no consensus,” she said.

Much of the disputes according to Chigumba are a result of lack of clear and specific laws that deal with election processes and role of stakeholders.

Chigumba added that although they have done everything to douse disputes they surprisingly keep popping up.

“We keep having these disputes around these areas as the law does not provide that members of the public or stakeholders be involved in these processes, our law says that only ZEC can do that.

“But despite the fact that this is what the law clearly says, we had said in the interest of inclusivity and in order to try and build consensus why don’t we do an exercise where we allow political parties to sit down and discuss the modalities and view the printing of the ballot paper.

“Now you can see the reason why we have always been reluctant to go outside the parameters of the law because despite what we have done there is still conflict around it, if there was a legal framework in place the law would tell us expressly what to do, when, how and why,” she said.

According to ZEC, a legal framework is important in that it reveals what everyone is supposed to do; adding that as long as it is not in place political parties will never be satisfied.

Justice Chigumba added that even though consensus has failed, the commission has not closed doors to discussions with stakeholders and political parties.

“We still said we have not closed the door, Commissioner Qhubani Moyo chairs the multi-liaison committees, the purpose of those committees is to have political parties in one room and discuss areas of disputes.

“We will still set up multi-party liaison committees, he will still invite them to come and talk about their requests or their demands, he will still do that because it’s his constitutional mandate,” said Chigumba.

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