HARARE – Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) chairperson Rita Makarau has backed down on her earlier decision to shut the door on opposition parties committing to engage them in future discussions on elections, MDC secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora said.
Last week, Makarau called off a meeting with opposition political parties, accusing them of engaging the commission through the media and abusing her in the process.
The incident resulted in a bitter fallout between Zec and the opposition political parties that also called for the commission to be disbanded.
The parties went on to converge in Harare, where they presented a petition to the commission, leading to Makarau’s response, where she softened her stance.
“Yesterday (Friday) we received two letters from the chairperson of Zec, Rita Makarau. In the first letter she said that Zec was committed to dialogue with political parties. She, however, said calls to disband Zec were outside her mandate,” Mwonzora, who is also the National Electoral Reform Agenda (Nera) head of legal affairs, said yesterday.
Nera is a grouping of several opposition political organisations that are calling for electoral reforms before the holding of next year’s watershed elections.
The aborted meeting was meant to discuss much-needed electoral reforms and the planned procurement of biometric voter registration (BVR) kits ahead of the make-or-break 2018 national elections.
During the meeting, Makarau was also expected to clarify the government’s sidelining of the UNDP in the procurement of the BVR kits.
She, however, used her response to the opposition political parties, to clarify the correct position pertaining to the procurement of the BVR kits.
“In the second letter she (Makarau) stated that government had not taken over the procurement of the BVR kits. She stated that the supplier of the kits would be picked only from those shortlisted by UNDP.
“Once the supplier is chosen, political parties would be allowed to inspect them. We reiterate that the procurement process by UNDP must not be interrupted. We want transparency. We thank all the comrades who stood up against the attempts by government to take over the BVR kits procurement process,” Mwonzora said.
He further said that the demonstration which preceded the handing over of the petition has proved to have yielded results.
“It was not in vein. We shall continue keeping our eyes open to ensure that it is not government which will seek to procure these kits. We will continue the fight,” Mwonzora said.
Last week, Mwonzora reiterated that they are not leaving anything to chance in their quest to have a free and fair election in 2018, adding that they will use political, legal and international pressure to achieve that goal.