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Electoral Commission

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 the 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.

Composition

The ZEC is composed of a Chair and six 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, of whom at least three must be women, are appointed by the President from a list of nine nominees supplied by the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders (Constitution of Zimbabwe 1980, Article 61).
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission 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 must be judges or legal practitioners. If the tribunal recommends that the Commissioner must be removed the President must act on that recommendation (Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Act 2005, 6).

Term of Office

The term of office of a Commissioner is five years, and a Commissioner may be appointed for a maximum of two terms (Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Act 2005, First Schedule, 1).

Functions

The Constitution (1980, 61(4)) tasks the ZEC with the following functions:

  • To prepare for, conduct and supervise elections and referenda and to ensure that they are “conducted efficiently, freely, fairly, transparently and in accordance with the law”.
  • To supervise voter registration.
  • To compile, preserve and maintain rolls and registers of voters.
  • To secure the equipment and locales necessary for voting operations.
  • To undertake voter education.
  • To accredit observers.
  • To instruct the Registrar-General of Voters and state employees on their functions under law.
  • To delimit constituencies and wards
  • To execute other tasks required of the ZEC by law.


The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Act (Chapter 2:12, 4) adds the following functions to those established by the constitution:

  • Undertaking and promoting research on electoral matters;
  • developing electoral expertise and technology;
  • promoting co-operation between the Government, political parties and civil society
  • keeping the public informed about registration, delimitations, the location and boundaries of polling stations, voters rolls inspection and on political parties and candidates; and
  • making recommendations to Parliament on public financing for political parties.

Chief Elections Officer

The Chief Elections Officer is the head of the secretariat and is responsible to the ZEC for the execution of electoral operation (Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Act Chapter 2:12, 11). The current Chief Elections Officer is Lovemore Chipunza Sekeramayi (Zimbabwe Electoral Commission 2007).

Funding

The ZEC is mainly funded from the Consolidated Revenue Fund (Constitution of Zimbabwe 1980, Article 61(6)). Other sources of funds include fees and charges for services, the proceeds of any penalties imposed, deposits forfeited by candidates, donations or grants that have been approved by the Minister and returns on investments (Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Act Chapter 2:12, 9, 9A).

Electoral Supervisory Commission (defunct 2005)

The Electoral Supervisory Commission (ESC) was abolished by the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 17) Act 2005 and its functions have been transferred to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC). The amendment repealed Article 61 of the Constitution which established the ESC and substituted for it a new article 61 providing for the constitutional establishment of the ZEC which hitherto had been constituted by ordinary legislation only.

The ESC was originally established in terms of Article 61 of the Constitution (1980) and was tasked with overseeing the registration of voters and the conduct of the elections. The actual execution and logistics were in the hands of the Registrar General and the Elections Directorate. The ESC was also required to consider proposed bills relating to elections, accredit observers and promote voter education (Molokele 2005).

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission was established with virtually identical terms of reference and responsibilities by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Act (2005) so that considerable confusion existed about the two bodies’ respective functions and duties (Human Rights Watch 2004, Zimbabwe Election Support Network 2004, 2, 12-14).

In addition there are two other bodies involved with elections (Molokele 2005):

Registrar General’s Office

The Registrar General’s Office is a department of the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Elections Directorate

The ED is a statutory body tasked with “the administrative logistics of the election process” on election day. Its function is primarily that of coordination of effort of the various organs involved. The Chairperson is appointed by the President, and it is staffed with civil servants.

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