ZEC Chief in the Dark on Election Date

Mtambanengwe told a meeting of civic society groups this week that he is just like many Zimbabweans in the dark about the election date.

He said his office is working on speculation in preparing for the eagerly awaited plebiscite which President Robert Mugabe ad his Zanu PF party says should be held this year.

 “When I came from Namibia in 2010 to take up this appointment it was envisaged that the constitutional referendum will happen in July but now two years down the line and we are approaching another July and the constitutional draft has not gone before the principals and even if it does there are certain steps that has to happen and one of them is the All Stakeholders Conference,” said Mtambanengwe.

“I can tell and my honest answer is that we don’t know when elections will happen, we are only waiting and speculating.”

Further pressed on what he will do if his commission is forced to organise an election in an environment which is not free and fair the former Namibian High Court judge told the gathering that he will cross the bridge when he gets to it.

“If it comes to a crunch time, where we say do we stand by the principle or we succumb to being bulldozed into conducting an election you know will not be free and fair, that choice we will make when we get to that position,” said Mtambanengwe.

Mtambanengwe himself a war veteran also took the opportunity of the meeting to implore the country’s liberation war heroes who have often been implicated in acts of political violence to live by the ideals of the country’s war of liberation by safeguarding people freedoms and democracy.

 “Political violence is sometimes associated with ex-combatants or war veterans, we forget that in bringing liberation to this country those of us who were involved as leaders in the struggle, actually taught them (violence perpetrators) the philosophy of violence with the slogan that power comes from the barrel of the gun and we continued with the ideas that you want something you must use force,” said Mtambanengwe.

“We have to start re-educating them to say if you fought for freedom and democracy and you go and force someone to vote the way you want and not the way he or she wants are you abiding by the principals which motivated you to sacrifice your life for the liberation of Zimbabwe. It’s a hard lesson to teach, it takes time.”

Mtambanengwe said he holds probably the most difficult job in the country because of the pressure that usually comes with elections in the country.

“As chairman of ZEC I am very much at the receiving end, I include my fellow commissioners because we have a very awful responsibility. In the context of peace, we bear a very heavy responsibility.

“Someone at the beginning of my tour of duty as chairperson of the commission said something very profound and that without God’s intervention you can’t do it. I believe so, the duty that has been put on our shoulders is a heavy duty particularly in the context of Zimbabwe,” he said.