Zimbabwe Electoral Commission
Updated August 2016
Evolution of electoral management
According to Susan Booysen and Lucien Toulou (2009, 239):
In the past, Zimbabwe was always referred to as one of the very few countries in Southern Africa that still used a multiplicity of institutions to oversee the electoral process. Four structures played distinct roles, namely the Electoral Supervisory Commission (ESC), the Delimitation Commission (DC), the Elections Directorate (ED), and the Registrar General (RG) of Elections. The then election management framework was a source of concern for many stakeholders not only because it lacked independence from the state and the ruling party but also for the potential duplication and dispersion of roles (Olaleye 2005, 10-24).
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) was brought into existence on February 1, 2005, in conformity with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Act. On August 30, 2005 a constitutional amendment was passed which, among other things, abolished the Electoral Supervisory Commission and reestablished the ZEC on a constitutional foundation by substituting a new Article 61 for then existing one (Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No 17) Act 2005). A further constitutional amendment (Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No 18) Act 2007) abolished the Delimitation Commission and transfered its functions to the ZEC: "In an attempt to comply with the 2004 SADC Guidelines and Principles governing the conduct of democratic elections, the country adopted constitutional amendments that introduced a number of electoral reforms in October 2007. These changes have seen the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) being enthroned as the sole election management body in the country. The RG of Elections continued to be responsible for the registration process, supposedly under the supervision of ZEC" Booysen and Toulou 2009, 239). The new Constitution of Zimbabwe, adopted in 2013, established the ZEC was on a new basis (Articles 232-241). In 2012 the contents of the contents of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Act were transferred to the Electoral Act and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Act itself was repealed.
The ZEC is composed of a Chairperson and eight other members. The Chair must be a judge or qualified to hold office as a judge and is appointed by the President after consultation with the Judicial Service Commission. The other members are appointed by the President from a list of not fewer than twelve nominees supplied by the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders (Constitution of Zimbabwe 2013, Article 238 (1) (b)). One of these eight is designated as Deputy Chairperson (Electoral Act, Sixth Schedule, 6)
The Independent Commissions Act provides that a Commissioner may be removed from office for mental or physical incapacity or for conduct that renders the person "unsuitable as a Commissioner". The removal process is initiated by the President, who appoints a tribunal to investigate the matter. The tribunal members' atleast one must be a person who has served as a judge. If the tribunal recommends that the Commissioner must be removed then parliament must be informed and the President must act on that recommendation (Constitution 2013, 237(2), 187 Electoral Act 6A).
Term of Office
The term of office of a Commissioner is six years, and a Commissioner may be appointed for a maximum of two terms (Constitution 2013, 238 (5)).
Conduct of elections and referenda
At every election and referendum, the ZEC must ensure that(Constitution 2013, 156):
- whatever voting method is used, it is simple, accurate, verifiable, secure and transparent;
- the results of the election or referendum are announced as soon as possible after the close of the polls; and
- appropriate systems and mechanisms are put in place to eliminate electoral violence and other electoral malpractices, and (ii) to ensure the safekeeping of electoral materials.
The Independent Commissions Supporting Democracy all have the following general objectives in addition to those given to them individually (Constitution of Zimbabwe, 233):
- to support and entrench human rights and democracy;
- to protect the sovereignty and interests of the people;
- to promote constitutionalism;
- to promote transparency and accountability in public institutions;
- to secure the observance of democratic values and principles by the State and all institutions and agencies of government, and government-controlled entities; and
- to ensure that injustices are remedied.
The Constitution 2013 (239) tasks the ZEC with the following functions specific to it:
- To conduct all elections (including presidential, parliamentary) and referenda efficiently, freely, fairly, transparently and in accordance with the law.
- To supervise elections of the President of the Senate and the Speaker.
- To register voters and to compile and maintain voters' rolls.
- To delimit constituencies, wards and other electoral boundaries.
- To acquire the materials required for and to establish and operate polling centres.
- To conduct and supervise voter education.
- To take such action on complaints from the public.
In addition to these constitutional functions, the Electoral Act (5) adds the following:
- conducting and promoting research into electoral matters;
- developing expertise and the use of technology;
- promoting co-operation between the Government, political parties and civil society;
- keeping the public informed about all electoral processes; and
- making recommendations to Parliament on appropriate ways to provide public financing for political parties.
The commissioners are (Shale 2013):
- Justice Rita Makarau (Chairperson)
- Emmanuel Magade [deputy chairperson)
- Qhubani Moyo
- Joyce Laetitia Kazembe
- Daniel John Chigaru
- Sibongile Ndlovu
- Dr Ngoni Kundidzora
- Netsai Mushonga
- Faith Sebata
Chief Elections Officer and staff
The Chief Elections Officer, Lovemore Sekeremayi, is the ZEC's chief executive officer who is responsible for management of the affairs, property and personnel of the ZEC, is the accounting officer of the ZEC and any other functions delegated except the duties of the Chair of the ZEC
Parliament must ensure that sufficient funds are appropriated to the ZEC to enable it to exercise their functions effectively (Constitution 2013,322).
Extracted from: Susan Booysen and Lucien Toulou 2009 "Chapter 15: Zimbabwe" IN Denis Kadima and Susan Booysen (eds) Compendium of Elections in Southern Africa 1989-2009: 20 Years of Multiparty Democracy, EISA, Johannesburg, 643.
The changes in election management mentioned above left some issues unaddressed regarding ZEC's autonomy as election organiser, particularly its close relationship with Zanu-PF and the government. Thus, the ZEC's role in the electoral process appears to be more supervisory than policy-making and effective management (EISA 2008, 32-34). Evidence of this institution's shortcomings were inter alia its failure to proclaim the results of the presidential vote immediately after the 29 March 2008 Harmonised Elections, to challenge the demand for a recount of votes expressed by Zanu-PF, and to postpone the June 2008 presidential run-off owing to the climate of violence, fear and intimation resulting in the decision by Morgan Tsvangirai to pull out of the electoral process.
BOOYSEN, S & TOULOU, K 2009 "Chapter 15: Zimbabwe" IN Denis Kadima and Susan Booysen (eds) Compendium of Elections in Southern Africa 1989-2009: 20 Years of Multiparty Democracy, EISA, Johannesburg.
CONSTITUTION OF ZIMBABWE 2013, [www] http://www.swradioafrica.com/Documents/Final%20draft%20Constitution%2025%20January%202013.pdf [PDF document, opens new window] (accessed 22 Aug 2016).
CONSTITUTION OF ZIMBABWE AMENDMENT (NO 17) ACT 2005.
CONSTITUTION OF ZIMBABWE AMENDMENT (NO 18) ACT 2007.
EISA 2008 "Interim Statement: Regional Election Observer Mission to the 2008 Harmonised Elections in Zimbabwe".
OLALEYE, W 2005 Negotiating the impasse: Challenges and prospects for democratisation in Zimbabwe, EISA Research Report No 9.
SHALE, V 2013 "RE: COMMISSIONERS", email from Country Director: EISA Zimbabwe, 28 May.
VERITAS 2010 "Constitutional Commissions", Bill Watch, 14/2010, 1 April.
VERITAS 2016, "Zimbabwe Electoral Commission: Six Vacancies Filled", Commissions Watch, 6/2016, 18 August.
ZIMBABWE ELECTORAL COMMISSION ACT CHAPTER 2:12, [www] http://aceproject.org/regions-en/eisa/ZW/Zimbabwe%20Electoral% 20Commission%20Act%20Chapter%2021%202.pdf [PDF document, opens new window] (accessed 22 Aug 2016). This does not include the amendments made by the Electoral Laws Amendment Act 2007.
Official web site
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission: [www] http://www.zec.gov.zw/ [opens new window] (accessed 22 Aug 2013).