Zimbabwe Electoral Commission: Can it Deliver a Credible Poll?


Zimababwe- Zimbabwe Democracy Institute Policy Brief Number 1: “Promoting Cutting-Edge Research and Public Policy Analysis for Sustainable Democracy”

Elections make democratization more likely if, “…they serve to make repression expensive and counterproductive, and spur the opposition to unify and mobilize; and if it will make a policy of tolerating the opposition seem to the rulers as if it will be make their rule more legitimate, but in fact trigger defections of state actors to the opposition and create self-fulfilling expectations about the continuation of competitive politics,” (Lindberg, 2009) .

The March 2008 harmonized national elections (simultaneously holding presidential, parliamentary and local government elections) in Zimbabwe showed that Zimbabwe has the capacity to hold relatively democratic elections, yet the June 2008 presidential run-off election where the Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) deployed widespread violence and intimidation as a method of power retention also proved that elections without choice are a reality in Zimbabwe.

This policy brief focuses on the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and its relationship with the security apparatus with a view to examine its capacity and ability to manage and preside over credible, free and fair elections as the country braces for possible harmonized elections sometime in 2013.

The study is informed by the role played by ZEC in 2008, the security sector influence and subsequent electoral, legal and personnel reforms that have taken place under the inclusive government formed in February 2009 when ZANU-PF joined hands with the two formations of the Movement for Democratic Change following the disputed 2008 presidential election run-off.

The Zimbabwe Democracy Institute (ZDI) argues, based on available evidence, which as Zimbabwe prepares for 2013 elections, the problematic, partisan, and militarized ZEC secretariat that presided over the 2008 sham election remains intact, now serving newly appointed commissioners. The objective of this policy brief is to delineate major political implications for Zimbabwe’s next general election under an unreformed and largely militarized ZEC secretariat.

Informed by lessons of the failed democratic transition in 2008 organized by the unchanged and entrenched ZEC, this policy brief proposes concrete reforms for ZEC ahead of 2013 elections. It’s a pre-emptive briefing paper for the counter-strategy for the pro-democracy movement as we seek to break away from ZEC electoral shenanigans of the past and chart ways for possible successful democratic transitions via elections. 

The Zimbabwe Democracy Institute believes strongly that Zimbabwe can achieve democratization through elections, but only when the conditions are right, including sufficient institutional and electoral systems reform that allow multi-party democracy to prevail.

This paper addresses a procedural approach to democracy using elections as the vehicle. ZEC and the Registrar-General’s Office manage elections and related matters, hence ZDI’s decision to focus on interrogating and examining the capacity of electoral management bodies to deliver credible elections.

This comes against the background of observations that Zimbabwe is a pseudo-democracy – that is – as Diamond (1996)[2] defines – a nation with opposition political parties that meets some tenets of electoral democracy such as regular upholding of elections but fails to provide a sufficiently fair arena for contestation to allow the ruling party to be turned out of power.

Among the objectives of the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute, working with other partners in the pro-democracy movement, is the attainment of a democratic Zimbabwe. Dahl (1971)[3] talks of a procedural minimum of democracy with elections being a central factor. ZDI has produced this briefing paper because we think that elections are a possible vehicle in transition to democracy given the authoritarian rule Zimbabwe has been grappling with for the past three decades.

As Lindblom (1980)[4] articulates, “The most conspicuous difference between authoritarianism and democratic regimes is that in democratic regimes citizens choose their top policy makers in genuine elections.” Lindberg (2009)[5] argues that once regular elections become established, certain state officials gain a formally defined role in protecting political rights.

Military commanders, police and security officials, judges must then ask themselves whether or not actions friendly to democracy will advance their future institutional status, individual careers and overall prominence, it is argued.

In hegemonic electoral authoritarian regimes, elections are a means by which the regime tries to reproduce itself. Under this scenario, the electoral context, environment and administration are crafted to deliver a pre-determined outcome of regime retention and continuity.

This is the premise of our interrogation of ZEC’s capacity told free, fair and credible elections given its past electoral management malpractices and the vilification of the democratic political opposition as well as failing to produce election results on time and its manipulation by the executive incumbency.

A credible and impartial ZEC is a critical factor in attempts to deliver a democratic electoral process and outcome and consequently a smooth transfer of power in Zimbabwe. 

Samuel Huntington (1997)[6] argues that elections can be perceived as a barometer for defining democracy. In his view, democracy could be understood as a means of constituting authority and making it responsible. A modern state, postulates Huntington (1997)[7] could be perceived as having a democratic political system if its most powerful political officers are chosen through fair, honest, periodic elections in which candidates freely compete for votes in a system to allow universal suffrage.

“According to this definition elections are the essence of democracy. From this follow other characteristics of democratic systems. Free, fair and competitive elections are only possible if there are some measure of freedom of speech, assembly, and press, and if opposition candidates and parties are able to criticize incumbents without fear of retaliation,’’ (Huntington 1997:3)[8]

Zimbabwe Democracy Institute contends that the unreformed ZEC secretariat, as currently composed, for reasons that follow, cannot deliver free and fair elections. ZEC, as currently composed, provides an opportunity to undermine the way through which powerful political forces can manipulate popular influence through institutionalized mechanisms and political strategies.

Electoral rules can be manipulated through such issues as who is registered to vote, how citizens vote, how the actual vote is counted and announced and how the votes are translated into governing power (Ginsberg et al 1986)[9].

The past election organized by ZEC is testimony. Results for the presidential poll in March 2008 were delayed without explanation for some six weeks and a sham June 2008 presidential run-off election condemned by SADC, AU and the rest of the international community was deemed free and fair by the same ZEC. It is this human factor decay in the ZEC secretariat and in the Registrar-General’s Office that requires both scrutiny and reform ahead of possible elections in 2013.

Despite the flawed nature of previous elections in Zimbabwe managed by ZEC and its predecessor the Electoral Supervisory Commission, surveys by Afro-barometer, Freedom House and the Mass Public Opinion Institute show that Zimbabweans still prefer elections as a way to choose their political leaders. In 2004, 75% of those surveyed preferred elections as a means whereas in 2005 about 74% preferred the same and the figure increased to 90% in 2009, 2010 and 2102.

The Zimbabwe Democracy Institute argues that since the controversial 1985 elections where PF ZAPU disputed a ZANU victory, Zimbabwe has had choiceless elections because of a number of reasons including the manner in which ZEC has organized and run elections, particularly since the emergence of an organized threat to ZANU PF’s political hegemony in the form of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

Zamchiya (2010)[10] argues that the next general election is unique since 1980 in that it is the first election to take place following the establishment of the inclusive government in 2009. The next election will bring fundamental changes to the politics of Zimbabwe and is critical and arguably the most important since the 1980 election.

ZDI thinks that understanding and unpacking the composition of ZEC and its nexus with the security apparatus can add value to finding ways of making sure that the election management body is not manipulated to deliver an election without choice.

The key questions guiding this policy brief are:
  1. Who constitutes the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Secretariat and its policy leadership?
  2. How are ZEC employees recruited?
  3. How does the composition of both the secretariat and the commission influence electoral process and outcomes and what are linkages between these bodies and the security apparatus?
  4. How can the pro-democracy movement counter the inadequacies and manipulative composition of ZEC drawing lessons from the disputed 2008 elections?
  5. What is the governing legal framework and what powers does both the ZEC secretariat and board have in terms of the Electoral Amendment Act?

To answer these questions ZDI conducted a comprehensive desktop survey to compile information in the public domain and to expose the backgrounds of ZEC employees in order to reveal the relationship between the secretariat and the military as well as partisan leanings towards ZANU-PF.

The research approach to this brief study of electoral bodies like ZEC and the Registrar-General’s Office is largely informed by the interpretive and critical social science perspectives that advocate the adoption of qualitative methods of research.

The desktop survey was supplemented by carefully selected unstructured interviews with valuable and critical informants in the field of elections and politics in Zimbabwe. For security reasons, names of the key informants consulted in putting up this policy briefing paper have been withheld.

The literature surveyed included academic books and journal articles, civil society reports including by the Zimbabwe Election Support Network, (ZESN), Zimbabwe’s Electoral Amendment Act, 2012, the Afro barometer surveys on Zimbabwe, Freedom House Survey Report on Zimbabwe (2012) and Mass Public Opinion Institute Surveys (2001, 2002, 2010 and 20012).

These reports helped ZDI understand the management of elections by ZEC such as voter education, polling stations distributions, voter turn-out and the militarization of electoral management bodies.

ZDI also did archival and contemporary media scan that was useful in giving insight into the electoral politics of Zimbabwe the military factor in the country’s political and electoral affairs. Newspapers such as The Independent, The Herald, The Chronicle, The Sunday News, The Daily News, The Daily News on Sunday, The Standard, Newsday, Financial Gazette were of assistance to interrogate the work of the ZEC and its relationship with the security apparatus 

4.1       Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and its Military Connections

The increased militarization of the State has led to the military taking control of an expanding range of decisions and actions, from electoral and political strategies to the formulation and implementation of agrarian and economic policies[11]. As will be noted below, most of the ZEC commissioners at some point worked for the government security establishment.

Could it have been by design or mere coincidence that most ZEC senior employees have a strong security background? And what does this mean for the non-partisan requirement of the workers given the partisan role of the security establishment in the political and electoral affairs of Zimbabwe?

A)        Commissioners of ZEC, newly established by the Inclusive Government

1. Chairperson: Justice Simpson Mutambanengwe 

Justice Mutambanengwe is a London-trained barrister who was admitted as dvocate in the UK in 1963. He briefly practiced at bar in London from 1963 to 1964. He was later admitted as Advocate to the then Rhodesian Bar in 1964 then practiced as an Advocate there until 1986 when the new Zimbabwe government appointed a High Court Judge.

In 1994 president Mugabe’s government seconded Mutambanengwe to Namibia we he was appointed High Court Judge, and later Supreme Court Judge. Zimbabwe’s Inclusive Government appointed him as chairperson of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) on the 31st of March 2010.

Justice Mutambanengwe is a veteran of Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle (commonly referred to as war veteran) from colonial rule and a former high-ranking member of the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (Zanla), the armed wing of ZANU PF.

2. Deputy Chairperson: Mrs Joyce Laetitia Kazembe 

Mrs Kazembe has eleven years experience (and complicity in sham elections) in electoral management bodies in Zimbabwe, having served in the Electoral Supervisory Commission (ESC) from 2001 until its dissolution in 2005. She then joined the ZEC and was reappointed as deputy chairperson when it was reconstituted in 2010.

Kazembe has presided over Zimbabwe’s controversial, disputed and violent elections of 2002, 2005 and 2008. She was part of the Electoral Supervisory Commission (ESC) run by ar veteran Colonel Sobusa-Gula Ndebele which certified the 2002 presidential election and the 2005 parliamentary election free and fair. Ndebele was later appointed Atoorney-General of Zimbabwe until he was fired in 2008.

In 2008, Kazembe was the deputy chair of the ZEC Commission led by Brigadier-General George Chiweshe, now High Court Judge President. Justice Chiweshe is a war veteran and former Judge-Advocate in the Zimbabwe National Army, a position he held until his appointment by President Mugabe as a High Court Judge in 2001.

Kazembe was a ZEC Commissioner in the ZEC that endorsed the internationally condemned violent June 2008 presidential run-off election that declared Mugabe winner of the sham poll. Mrs Kazembe also served as Commissioner and Administrator of the government-appointed Zimbabwe Constitutional Commission (1999-2000) and as Governor of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation between 2001 and 2002. 

3. Commissioner: Mr Daniel John Chigaru 

Daniel Chigaru, an educationist and adminstrator, holds a B. Admin degree (UZ) and MBL degree (UNISA). He is the General Manager of Zimbabwe International Trade Fair Company (ZITF), Chairperson of Zimtrade, Assistant Governor (Bulawayo) Rotary District 9210, Past President of the Rotary Club of Matopos and sits on the boards of the following institutions:-Zimbabwe International Trade Fair Company Board, ZimTrade, Matabeleland Chamber of Industries Executive Committee, Export Credit Guarantee Corporation of Zimbabwe, Lupane State University Council and Solusi University Council.

4. Commissioner: Professor Geoff Feltoe 

Professor Feltoe is an Associate Professor of Law at the University of Zimbabwe and is a registered legal practitioner. He studied in South Africa, Zimbabwe and England. He has lectured at the University of Zimbabwe for several years. His main teaching and research subjects are Criminal Law, Administrative Law and Delict.

He has published guides to these fields of law, as well as handbooks for Judges, Magistrates and Legal Practitioners on the handling of criminal cases. He has also published numerous articles on various aspects of the law in Zimbabwe. Professor Feltoe has been involved in various areas of law reform, including media, electoral and constitutional reforms.  

5. Commissioner: Mr Theophilus Gambe 

Theophilus Pharoah Gambe is a senior legal counsel of the High Court of Zimbabwe, and senior partner in the law firm Gambe and Partners. He served in the Electoral Supervisory Commission (ESC) under Col. Gula-Ndebele during the 2002, 2005 presidential and parliamentary elections respectively. He was one of the commissioners in the ZEC board led by Justice Chiweshe that presided over the disputed June 2008 presidential election run-off. 

6. Commissioner: Dr Petty Makoni 

Dr Petty Makoni is a Health Professional, Educationist and Academic. She is a trained Nurse, Clinical Instructor, Nursing Educator, University Lecturer and Consultant. She also worked at various government institutions such as Harare and Mpilo Hospitals. 

7. Commissioner: Mrs Sibongile Ndlovu 

Commissioner Ndlovu has been involved in elections since 1995 as an election officer, an election-monitoring supervisor, voter education supervisor with Election Supervisory Commission (ESC), once a Deputy Elections Officer for Bulawayo Province in 2007 and then a District Elections Officer in Bulawayo District from 2008 to March 2010. She also served in the Ministry of Education, Sport and Culture as a teacher in various schools becoming a secondary school Head in 1995 up to 2007. She is a University of Zimbabwe graduate. 

8. Commissioner: Mrs Bessie Fadzai Nhandara 

Mrs Nhandara is an educationist and worker for several years as a teacher and top civil servant. She served as Regional Director of Education for Harare and Bindura in the Ministry of Education Sports and Culture until her appointment to ZEC in 2010. She is a University of Zimbabwe graduate. 

9. Commissioner: Mr Mkhululi Nyathi 

Commissioner Mkhululi Nyathi is the Senior and Managing Partner at Mabhikwa Hikwa and Nyathi Legal Practitioners in Bulawayo. He graduated with a Bachelor of Laws degree and Masters of Laws degree from the University of Zimbabwe and the University of the Witwatersrand in 1999 and 2005 respectively.

Mr. Nyathi lectured in the department of Public Law at the University of Zimbabwe (2002-2004) as a staff Development fellow before his Masters Degree after completion of which he left the University of Zimbabwe and joined the Department of Insurance and Risk Management, Faculty of Commerce, at the National University of Science and Technology at the end of 2005. At the National University of Science and Technology Mr. Nyathi taught Insurance Law and Commercial Law. Mr. Nyathi left the National University of Science and Technology at the end of 2006 to concentrate on legal practice. 

B.            Zimbabwe Election Commission Secretariat

The ZEC Secretariat (administrative organ) is headed by a Chief Elections Officer (CEO) and has various departments. The CEO is the administrative and technical head of the Secretariat and directly reports to the Commission. He is the ZEC accounting officer.

Specifically, the Secretariat consists of three divisions namely: Administration Finance, Operations and Inspectorate Divisions. It has ten permanent provincial offices each headed by a Provincial Elections Officer who is the direct representative of the CEO at the provincial level. ZEC has established sixty districts across the country each headed by a District Elections Officer.

1.     Chief Elections Officer – Mr. Lovemore Chipunza Sekeramayi 

Mr Sekeramayi is a former civil servant and a social sciences graduate from a UK university and was one of the first few senior civil servants in the newly independent Zimbabwe in 1982. He worked as District Administrator (Makonde), Provincial Administrator (Mashonaland Central), Deputy Registrar General (Administration and Finance) and Deputy Secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet.

Departments in the Office of the President include the Central Intelligence Organization (CIO), the country’s dreaded spy agents. Sekeramayi was appointed CEO of ZEC in 2005 after Major-General Douglas Nyikayaramba who held the post then, returned to active military duties having been the Chief Elections Officer of the ZEC’s predecessor, the Electoral Supervisory Commission which administered the disputed 2002 and 2005 presidential and parliamentary elections respectively.

2.      Administration and Finance Division – Mr. Notayi Mutemasango 

This division is headed by a Deputy Chief Elections Officer, Mutemasango, responsible for providing the much needed support services to the Operations division through four departments namely:-Administration, Finance, Human Resources, and Information Services. In addition to these four departments, there are three more departments under the Chief Elections Officer namely, Legal, Security and Internal Audit. 

3.     Operations Division – Major Utoile Silaigwana 

Major Silaigwana was responsible of army education corps before he joined ZEC. He was employed during the reign of Major-General Nyikayaramba. Like Nyikayaramba who denied that he was a serving soldier at the time he managed the elections, the same applies to Major Slaigwana. However, as is now public information, Major-Gneral Nyikayaramba who was a Brigadier then, returned to the army and was consequently promoted after presiding over violent, controversial and disputed polls where the army Commander-In-Chief, President Robert Mugabe, was a candidate in the 2002 presidential election.

This division is responsible for the core function of the Commission, that is, the actual conduct and management of elections and referendums, election logistics, voter education and publicity campaigns and image promotion. Major Slaigwana is a Deputy Chief Elections Officer and has four (4) departments namely: – Polling and Training, Public Relations, Voter Education, and Election Logistics. 

Shupikai Mashereni,a member of the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA), is the Public Relations Officer of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission. His office falls under the Operations department. 

4.     Inspectorate Division – Chief Inspector – Jane Chigidji 

Chigidji runs this division that has a responsibility of monitoring and evaluating the implementation of the electoral processes with a view to achieving electoral best practice, to evaluate the Commission’s management systems and to carry out research. 

ZDI further highlighted the following issues for critical observation:

The Zimbabwe Democracy Institute (ZDI) through a critical survey and analysis of both personnel and ZEC commissioners discovered critical continuities between the reconstituted ZEC the old order that was responsible for administering sham elections from 2002 to 2008. Both the commissioners and the workers largely represent regime interest.

There have been little institutional and personal reforms to reflect a move away from the discredited order. There are ZEC commissioners like Kazembe, Gambe and former employee Ndlovu who served under past discredited electoral management bodies. Their continued involvement in the management of elections cast aspersions on ZEC’s ability to preside over free and fair elections. They failed in the past and there is no reason to believe they will succeed in the future.

Except for Feltoe and Nyathi, the other commissioners have a long history of working under the ZANU PF government. ZDI is of the view that they are compromised. ZEC through its website says it has ten provincial election officers and sixty district election officers nationwide. How these employees are recruited is unclear and remains shrouded in mystery. There are no public advertisements for the recruitment process.

This casts aspersions on the background of these employees given the strong influence of the military and other security agents especially the partisan nature of uniformed forces in other security departments. This does not give public confidence in the office holders of this critical body, worse when there is a clear relationship with the army whose top brass promises to subvert electoral outcomes that do not favour ZANU PF.

Senior ZEC employees such as Chief Elections Officer, Sekeramayi and Major Silaigwana, apart from being carried over from discredited previous ZEC administrations that presided over the sham elections in 2008, have close relationships with the security apparatus of the State. Major Silaigwana is attached with the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) Education Corps but is also responsible for operations in ZEC.

The employees of ZEC were employed under the leadership of military heads of the previous electoral management body. Retired Colonel Sobuza-Gula Ndebele was the chairperson of the Electoral Supervisory Commission (ESC) the predecessor of ZEC in the 2002 and 2005 presidential and parliamentary elections. During that time the Chief Elections Officer was Brigadier-General Douglas Nyikayaramba. He was responsible for employing most of the current ZEC workers. The system continued when Brigadier-General Justice George Chiweshe took over in 2007.

There is a close relationship between the President’s Office, the military and the ZEC secretariat in the management of elections in Zimbabwe. This relationship is both overt and covert. This nexus makes the ZEC secretariat unfit to administer credible, free and fair elections. Under the circumstances it becomes problematic to appreciate who, apart from commissioners, these ZEC employees are answerable to.

The two MDC formations led by Prime Minister Tsvangirai and professor Welshman Ncube have formally objected to the current composition of the ZEC staff on grounds of compromised independence and have put the matter up for discussion within the Southern African Development Community (SADC) framework of negotiations for a roadmap to free and fair elections in Zimbabwe.

However, ZANU PF has rejected any attempts to have a staff audit of ZEC employees or to allow the new ZEC to recruit its own employees with clear credentials for professionalism and independence. ZANU-PF insists that current ZEC employees cannot be removed because it’s a labour issue while the MDC formations propose an overhaul of the secretariat. There are no compelling grounds why a failed secretariat should be responsible for continuously failing to deliver credible, democratic elections. 

4.2            Zimbabwe Election Commission Legal Framework

The Electoral Amendment Act, number 3 or 2012, gazetted on 28 September 2012, provides the legal framework governing the establishment, mandate and operations of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).

Article 4A of the Electoral Amendment Act provides that ZEC shall be a body corporate capable of suing and being sued and, subject to the Constitution and this Act, of performing all acts that bodies corporate may by law perform.  However, individual ZEC Commissioners or members of staff maybe liable to prosecution in their individual capacities as the Act has a narrow scope of those acts or duties for which there is no liability.

The Act provides that no legal proceedings shall lie against the Commission or any of the Commissioners or the Chief Executive Officer or any member of the staff of the Commission acting under the direction of the Commission or the Chief Elections Officer in respect of anything done in good faith and without gross negligence in pursuance of this Act (emphasis added).[12]

Potentially, Commissioners or ZEC employees may be liable to legal proceedings in cases deemed to have been done in bad faith or as  result of gross negligence. In the run-up to the June 2008 presidential run-off election a number of ZEC employees were arrested and charged with a number of offences including ‘abuse of office’ widely viewed as a form of persecution and intimidation that could undermine the independence of the commissioners and ZEC staff as provided in the Act – that every Commissioner and member of staff of the Commission shall perform their functions independently.[13]

ZEC is mandated to appoint the head of its secretariat, a chief executive called the Chief Elections Officer, who, as indicated above is Sekeramayi. The Act gives the Chief Elections Officer the right to attend meetings of the Commission and, except in the case of any discussion relating to the terms and conditions of his or her appointment, to take part in the proceedings of the Commission as if he or she were a Commissioner, but shall not have a vote on any question before the Commission.

Additionally, the Chief Elections Officer has the key and exclusive power, ahead of the ZEC Chairperson, to announce election results within five days of voting, including in the presidential election.[14] The Act prohibits any other person from announcing election results, and makes it a criminal offence attracting a fine or a prison sentence not exceeding six months in prison, or both. This provision is a departure from previous practice, perhaps better practice, where the responsibility to announce election results rested with the ZEC Chairperson.

The Act, article 11 (2) enjoins Commissioners and the Commission’s employees and agents to —

(a) Exercise their functions in a manner that —           (i) promotes conditions conducive to free, fair and democratic elections and referendums; and (ii)      ensures that the secrecy and integrity of voting at elections and referendums is respected. ZEC is mandated to monitor the Zimbabwean news media during any election period to ensure that political parties, candidates, broadcasters, print publishers and journalists to ensure compliance with its requirements on impartial and fair reporting.

Article 40H of the Electoral Amendment Act (2012) Observers Accreditation Committee reveal that the Central Intelligence Organization (CIO) will be involved in the accreditation of election observers where its state that one person nominated by the Office of the President and Cabinet shall be a member of the committee.

In terms of the same section a person nominated by the Minister responsible for immigration, that is, the Minister of Home Affairs, and the security Ministry will also be part of the Observers Accreditation Committee. Immigration officials are usually members of the intelligence community or close work with state security agents.


To the Inclusive Government of Zimbabwe 

1. Take immediate measures to de-militarize ZEC secretariat and its national operations to restore full independence and perceptions of independence. This includes recalling all military and security agents retired and serving in ZEC and starting an open and transparent recruitment process.

2. Enable the newly established ZEC to initiate fresh recruitment of employees as those involved in the administration of past elections especially the June 2008 presidential sham including Chief Elections Officer Mr Sekeramyi, lack public confidence that they can preside over credible elections.

3. Ensure that the powers of ZEC are vested in the Commission and exercised through the Chairperson of the Commission and not, as is the case, mainly through the Chief Elections Officer.

4. Ensure that Commissioners and ZEC employees are protected from undue influence, prosecution and persecution in the conduct of their duties.

To Southern African Development Community (SADC) Member States: 

1. Call upon the Inclusive Government of Zimbabwe, to, as part of the elections roadmap, ensure fresh recruitment of ZEC employees and to ensure that they have no connections to the security sector.

2. Press Zimbabwe government leaders to order military and security agents to desist from interfering in electoral process through covert and overt operations in bodies such as ZEC.

3. Put measures in place well ahead of the next elections to ensure that Zimbabwe’s elections fully comply with SADC guidelines on the conduct of democratic elections, particularly indicating that past pre-emptive coup statements made by the military generals would not be accepted by SADC. 

About the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute 

The Zimbabwe Democracy Institute (ZDI) is a politically independent and neutral public policy think-tank based in Zimbabwe. Founded and registered as a trust in terms of the laws of Zimbabwe in November 2012 (Deed of Trust Registration Number MA1223/2012), ZDI serves to generate and disseminate innovative ideas and cutting-edge research and policy analysis to advance democracy, development, good governance and human rights respect in Zimbabwe.

The Institute aims to promote open, informed and evidence-based debate by bringing together pro-democracy experts to a platform that offers new ideas to policy makers with a view to entrench democratic practices in Zimbabwe.

The ZDI researches, publishes and conducts national policy debates and conferences in, among others, the following areas: democratization; good governance; political finance economic governance; public policy; human rights and transitional justice, media and democracy relations, socio-economic policies; electoral studies and Zimbabwe’s foreign affairs. Below is our first briefing paper on elections.

Pro-democracy intellectuals and academics wishing to join ZDI’s dynamic Research Fellows Platform in order to contribute fresh ideas on Zimbabwe’s sustainable development delivered on a non-partisan plate, please email to: zditrust@gmail.com.



[1] S., Lindberg, (2009), Democratization by Elections, A MIXED RECORD, The Journal of Democracy, Volume 20, Number 3

[2] S., Lindberg, (2009),  Democratization by Elections, A MIXED RECORD, The Journal of Democracy, Volume 20, Number 3

[3] Dahl, R., (1971), Oligarchy: Participation and Opposition. Yale University: New Haven.

[4] Lindblom, C., 1980. The Policy Making Process. Prentice-Hall. Englewood Cliffs.

[5] S., Lindberg, (2009),  Democratization by Elections, A MIXED RECORD, The Journal of Democracy, Volume 20, Number 3

[6] Huntingon, S., (1997), After Twenty Years: The Future of the Third Wave, Journal of Democracy, 8.4 (1997), 3-12

[7] Ibid

[8] Ibid p3

[9] Ginsberg and Stone, A., (1986), Do Elections Matter? Sharpe: New York

[10] Zamchiya, P., (2010), Electoral Detectors, unpublished work

[11] Jocelyn Alexander and Blessing Miles Tendi, 2008,  ‘A Tale of Two Elections: Zimbabwe at the Polls in 2008’, Concerned African Scholars, Bulletin, No.80, Winter 2008

[12] Article 4B, Electoral Amendment Act, Number 3 of 2012

[13] Article 10A (1), Electoral Amendment Act, Number 3 or 2012.

[14] Article 110, Electoral Amendment Act, Number 3 or 2012.

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