Open letter to ZEC chairperson Priscilla Chigumba on 2023 elections

An open letter to ZEC Commissioner Priscilla Chigumba warning her not to frog march Zimbabwe to a Black Apartheid 2023 Election through controversial reforms.
Dear Priscilla Chigumba, Please Don’t Frog March Zimbabwe to a Black Apartheid 2023 Election

Commissioner Priscilla Chigumba, today I choose to address my opinion personally to you because every Sunday week I write about elections, I am not sure if your subordinate Utoile Silaigwana shares my posts with you.

Early on in 2023 I promised my readers I would remain fair, level headed and balanced in my opinion of where Zimbabwe is heading to this election year.

Of course, we all differ on the meaning and context of ‘objective’, but I can assure you that when I write about elections, I mean well. It’s neither here no there if ZANU PF or CCC agrees with my view.

Moreover, it is not for me to say whether or not Pachedu is correct in its analysis of the Voters’ Roll or Veritas on the ‘revised’ Delimitation Report and Electoral Amendment Bill, because I am yet to see the final documents.

The point of my letter today is for you to realise that being an anointed Judge, you should know better what the phrase ‘free and fair elections’ means.

So, whenever Zimbabweans are killed before, during and after Parliamentary and Presidential elections due to arguments and disagreement on ‘freeness’ and ‘fairness’, you Ms. Chigumba, should take and accept full blame, because you are the proverbial custodian on ‘freeness and fairness’ of our elections.

Ms. Chigumba, our road to Election 2023 has already started on a sour note, fraught with controversy. Other than CCC supporters and leaders being assaulted or arrested for ‘electoral crimes’, the Electoral Amendment Bill has already been condemned as being fraudulently inadequate.

Moreover, your fellow Commissioners Jasper Mangwana, Abigail Millicent Mohadi-Ambrose, Catherine Mpofu, Jane Mbetu Nzvenga, Kudzai Shava, Rosewita Murutare and Shepherd Manhivi have publicly disowned the Delimitation Report; apart from Parliament giving it an adverse analysis.

In most cases, civil society organisations are complaining that ZEC neither consults them nor listens to their opinion.

As a custodian of electoral democracy in Zimbabwe, you should be concerned about all these negative tremours around you. Yes, you were technically appointed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa thus you report to him.

But remember elections are about and for fifteen million Zimbabweans; and Mr. Mnangagwa himself was put in that position by Zimbabweans in 2017. We could have simply told General Constantino Chiwenga we want Robert Mugabe back and refused to cooperate in 2018.

So, it is important for you, Ms. Chigumba, to bear in mind that your indebtedness to Mr. Mnangagwa does not and should not supersede our national electoral and democratic interests for truly free and fair elections.

And so you can appreciate that if civil society, opposition parties and your seven colleagues do not agree with you, something is definitely amiss.

You urgently need self-introspection – but before we see both the final Electoral Amendment Act and Delimitation Report, it may be premature to condemn you as a surrogate of Emmerson Mnangagwa.

This is why today I want to remind you that even in apartheid South Africa, the Boers had elections. But elections for the sake of elections are totally valueless.

This year – 2023 – we Zimbabweans don’t want apartheid-type elections. Apartheid was a policy or system of segregation or discrimination on grounds of race.

So, if now our elections perpetuate the system of segregation and discrimination on the grounds of political party affiliation, you are taking our country in the wrong direction.

Let me remind you about apartheid South Africa elections that eventually were the cause of an ANC-instigated civic and military uprising:

“The South Africa Act passed by the British Parliament in 1909 combined the self-governing British colonies of the Natal, Cape, Transvaal and the Orange Free State into the Union of South Africa.

“The Act, which served as the Union’s constitution until 1961, created a parliamentary government along the lines of the Westminster model, consisted of a directly elected House of Assembly and an indirectly elected Senate.

“However, the permission was largely restricted to White men. The Orange Free State (formerly the Orange River Colony) and the Transvaal denied all Blacks the right to vote. In Natal, nearly all Blacks were not allowed to vote.”

When the Electoral Amendment Act and Delimitation Report denies any Zimbabwean an opportunity to freely express their democratic rights, the system that ZEC perpetuates is no more different from apartheid South Africa.

In fact, it becomes Black Apartheid in Zimbabwe.

Opposition parties denied to campaign. Constituencies changed to suit ZANU PF Wards shifted to disoriented CCC voters.

A Voters’ Roll with incorrect or false entries. CCC given negative publicity on national television and public newspapers. CCC rallies or meetings banned. ZANU PF distributing gifts to constituents.

CCC leaders arrested on trumped up charges. ZEC Commissioners disowning Delimitation Report. Civil society complaining about the Electoral Amendment Act and PVO Bill.

All this, Ms. Chigumba, should tell you that we are heading for disputed results in August 2023.

It took blood and death to resolve the Apartheid controversy, only because those white leaders failed to act on time. We want elections in Zimbabwe, but not as a constitutional routine.

We want to express ourselves freely, knowing that you, ZEC, the Ministry of Justice and for that matter, President Mnangagwa – do not for once assume elections are for the benefit only of ZANU PF and its supporters.

Your legacy will be tarnished by further electoral violence and deaths. If there is anything, Ms. Chigumba, you can do now to reverse any trend towards ‘black apartheid elections in Zimbabwe’, it is not too late.

  • Liberal activist Rejoice Ngwenya on his weekly ‘Electoral Watch’, Sunday, 5 February 2023, Ruwa, Zimbabwe
Rejoice Ngwenya
Rejoice Ngwenya
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