By Professor Matodzi
Harare, August 2, 2013 – Zimbabwe’s elections management body, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has suffered a major blow after one of the commissioners resigned on Friday citing some irregularities in the manner in which ZEC conducted last month’s harmonized elections.
In a development which exposes rifts in the elections management body, Mkhululi Nyathi, a seasoned lawyer and a senior partner at Mabhikwa Hikwa and Nyathi Legal Practitioners in Bulawayo tendered his resignation from serving as ZEC commissioner in protest over the way the elections management body had conducted the July 31 harmonised elections.
“I hereby tender my resignation from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission with immediate effect. I do not wish to enumerate the many reasons for my resignation, but they all have to do with the manner the Zimbabwe 2013 Harmonised Elections were proclaimed and conducted,” reads part of Nyathi’s letter, addressed to President Robert Mugabe and copied to ZEC chairperson Justice Rita Makarau, Global Political Agreement leaders and MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai and Welshman Ncube, who heads the MDC party and heads of accredited election observer teams.
Nyathi said his resignation was not informed by the outcome of the election which he is still not privy to as ZEC has not announced results for presidential elections and in some constituencies has not finished proclaiming victors of the parliamentary polls.
The senior lawyer said though Zimbabweans had conducted themselves with dignity and calm throughout the whole electoral process, these were not the only benchmarks for “free, fair and legitimate elections.”
He said all efforts to retain some measure of hope that integrity of the whole electoral process could be salvaged along the way had been futile.
The remaining ZEC commissioners include Makarau, Joyce Kazembe, the deputy chairperson, Daniel Chigaru, Professor Geoff Feltoe, Theophilus Gambe, Dr Petty Makoni, Bessie Fadzai Nhandara and Sibongile Ndlovu.
Nyathi becomes the second commissioner to resign from ZEC after Justice Simpson Mutambanengwe, who chaired the elections management body upon its appointment in 2010 and who resigned in February this year before Makarau was appointed as the substantive head of the commission.
In December, Professor Reginald Austin also resigned from the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission citing inadequate resources and the commission’s lack of independence to carry out its mandate.
Nyathi’s resignation comes a day after Tsvangirai dismissed the election as a farce. This was after the MDC-T leader’s main rival President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party claimed a landslide victory. On Thursday, a dejected Tsvangirai said the harmonised election was “null and void.”
On Friday, his party’s spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora said party supporters could stage protests to challenge Mugabe’s victory.
Patrick Chinamasa, the Zanu PF deputy secretary for legal affairs told journalists that Mugabe had won the election with a landslide victory even before ZEC had announced results for presidential elections.