Is Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) compelled by the law to have observers during the Mobile Voter Registration Blitz?
There has been an outcry from various stakeholders calling out ZEC for not having called out for accreditation of observers during its ten-day MVR Blitz taking place between March 12 and March 21, 2023.
Some media practitioners have also noted that ZEC officials at registration centres have not been issuing statistics on the progress of the exercise.
Legal Practitioner Tanaka Muganyi of Tanaka Law Chambers explained that ZEC did not break any law by not calling out for the accreditation of observers during the voter registration process.
“What ZEC is doing is within the confines of the law. This is a legal process that they are carrying out to add people to the voters’ roll. The law does not compel them to accredit any observers for that. They are only compelled to accredit observers for the actual general election,” Munganyi said.
He also clarified the issue of statistics, ZEC, as a public institution, has the mandate to give out information that may be of public interest.
“In terms of accessing information, the media can request the statistics from ZEC. If they are denied, they can do so via the Zimbabwe Media Commission and should the information still not be released to them, then further legal action can be taken. As a public entity, ZEC is compelled under the Freedom of Information Act to avail such information to the public.”
Another legal practitioner, Nqobani Sithole, also weighed in on the issue of access to information, quoting Section 62 (1) (2) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe which provides for access to information provides for access to information as stated below:
62. Access to information
1. Every Zimbabwean citizen or permanent resident, including juristic persons and the Zimbabwean media, has the right of access to any information held by the State or by any institution or agency of government at every level, in so far as the information is required in the interests of public accountability.
2. Every person, including the Zimbabwean media, has the right of access to any information held by any person, including the State, in so far as the information is required for the exercise or protection of a right.