HARARE – In a stunning claim, former Presidential Affairs minister Didymus Mutasa alleges that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s (Zec’s) decision to bar him from participating in the forthcoming Headlands by-election is based on a directive from Zanu PF bigwigs — a charge that raises questions about the independence of the country’s electoral body.
Mutasa told the Daily News on Sunday on Friday that this was the reason why he had vowed to challenge the rejection of his nomination papers in court, in a bid to win the right to contest the June 10 by-election.
“My nomination papers were correctly completed and submitted, but after a long wait, we were told that they received a letter from Zanu PF instructing them to turn down the papers.
“Zanu PF is not supposed to feature in the way Zec manages its affairs, so for us it’s aluta continua (the struggle continues),” he said.
But Zec deputy chairperson Joyce Kazembe scoffed at the claims, maintaining that the electoral body had acted lawfully, as provided for in the country’s laws, when it rejected Mutasa’s papers.
“We did not get instructions from anyone. Why would anyone give us instructions? It’s standard procedure that we look at the papers and his had irregularities.
“Everyone knows they lost the Constitutional Court challenge, so there were irregularities in that he brought papers in the name of Zanu PF,” Kazembe said.
Mutasa came face to face with the uncompromising nature of President Robert Mugabe’s administration last Wednesday when he was blocked from registering as a ruling party candidate for the by-election.
The rejection of his nomination papers, which were filed on his behalf by his chief elections agent Sabina Ranganai Chitema, scuttled his re-election bid in the June 10 poll — with Zec claiming that Mutasa was not “sponsored by the party which he had indicated in the Nomination Court”.
But Mutasa, who has been one of the many casualties of the ruling party’s ongoing brutal purges, maintained yesterday that his papers were in order — describing the development as a litmus test of the electoral system in the country.
He vowed that he would continue to fight for good governance and the independence of constitutional bodies such as Zec which were mandated to protect the liberty of citizens.
“It is not the end but the beginning. Nothing ends before it has begun. We are testing the waters.
“Has Zec become a political tool to receive orders from politicians? That is what happened at Mutare. We shall have it considered by the appropriate body and expose all failures in our administrative bodies such as Parliament and now Zec,” he said.
Mutasa and other disaffected Zanu PF stalwarts have rattled Mugabe after they fronted a rival Zanu PF formation that is using the slogan “People First”.
Analysts view the disgruntled party cadres as representing the second major and most dangerous threat to Zanu PF’s hegemonic rule since the formation of the MDC in 1999.
In the meantime, opposition parties in the country have also been piling pressure on Zec, questioning its independence from the ruling party’s influence.
Former prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC claims that the Rita Makarau-chaired electoral body’s secretariat is staffed with spooks whose duty is to ensure a victory for the ruling party during elections.
Zapu leader Dumiso Dabengwa has even taken Zec to court, in a bid to try and force it to independently take charge of the country’s electoral processes, including voter registration.