Chigumba must talk to Chamisa

Chigumba must talk to Chamisa
Published: 16 July 2018
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) is right to agree to participate in talks with Nelson Chamisa over how to resolve the serious threat posed by failure to iron out a raft of administrative electoral reforms the opposition leader has said are vital for a credible vote on July 30.

It may not sound like progress - especially when one considers that Zec has only agreed to accede to Chamisa's demands as long as the other 21 opposition parties agree with him in the Multi-Party Liaison Committee - a conflict management arm headed by a Zec commissioner and representatives of each political party contesting the election.

Chamisa has rejected this saying the enforcement of his individual rights cannot be dependent upon the choice by other presidential candidates to either claim or waiver their own rights.

He fears the Multi-Party Liaison Committee could be manipulated because he suspects some of the presidential candidates are not genuine opposition but a creation of the ruling Zanu-PF. But if an agreement to talk is evidence of Zec's new willingness to engage the MDC Alliance, then that is good news.

As the parties prepare for the first round of negotiations, they must decide what they ultimately wants them to achieve.

This will be no small challenge for a Zec that continues to be badly divided between hard-liners who have pushed to isolate the MDC Alliance with the eventual goal of regime retention and continuity and other officials who favour engagement because they believe isolation could lead to a legitimacy catastrophe.

What the MDC Alliance is seeking are administrative actions, which enhance the transparency of the election as envisaged in the Constitution.

These administrative actions, as Zec now confirms, do not offend the law in that they are neither provided for nor prohibited.

In addition, these administrative actions are in keeping with Zec's mission to manage elections and referendums in terms of the law and best practice as informed by one of the commission's stated core values of transparency.

The MDC Alliance is not asking Zec to reinvent the wheel.

Zec acting chief elections officer Utloile Silaigwana has said they will hold talks with the MDC Alliance's presidential candidate only in the Multi-Party Liaison Committee - headed by Commissioner Qhubani Moyo.

The march on the Zec offices by the MDC Alliance last week had the endorsement from all parties contesting the election, except Zanu-PF.

In essence, the main alliances contesting this election are speaking with one voice. Zec must understand that consensus does not mean the agreement of Zanu-PF.

Zec must not be allowed to dismiss the MDC Alliance's legitimate concerns on the basis that small parties that are being allegedly sponsored by Zanu-PF could not agree with the main alliance's demands.

Hard-liners are obviously viewing these impending talks as an unwanted step. Yet it is an unavoidable step in a move ultimately intended to salvage's Zec's apparent failure to handle its enormous obligation as an impartial referee.

The attempt to have Chamisa's queries acceded to, only if the other presidential candidates agree, calls for negotiations to fail by setting an unrealistically high bar for success.

This position is unacceptable to Chamisa for obvious reasons.
And when the Multi-Party Liason Committee fails to agree to Chamisa's demands, so the thinking goes, Zec will be better placed to unfurl a continuing trajectory of isolation of the MDC Alliance, having demonstrated the failure to secure consensus among all the presidential candidates.

The MDC Alliance and Zec are now at a critical point. A policy of engagement is the only sensible approach for Zec - not only to avoid a confrontation, but also to prevent serious and lasting damage to the pursuit of electoral legitimacy as well as healing badly frayed relations with cash-rich Western countries that could help in unlocking foreign funding and investment needed to revive the struggling economy.

What is now left is the political will to implement the administrative issues being demanded to enhance the credibility and integrity of the election as required by the constitution and for the good of the country.
- dailynews
Tags: Chigumba, Chamisa,


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