By Wallace Mawire
Zimbabwe’s Election Resource Centre (ERC) reports that it is dismayed by the failure of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to provide 2018 and 2019 accounts for audit to the Auditor General.
ERC said that they took the opportunity to remind ZEC that the Principles of Public Administration and Leadership under section 195 of the Constitution requires all institutions and agencies of government at all tiers to be accountable to parliament, cooperate with each other and 196 3 and to be accountable to the public for decisions and actions.
The ERC said that the ZEC is not an exception and that the commission must comply with the provisions of the law and best practices.
‘The use of finances by any Election Management Body is governed by principles of election administration of which transparency and accountability are key characteristics to foster trust and confidence. As a public body, ZEC has a responsibility to open itself up to public scrutiny and to account on how it uses public funds,’ ERC said.
It added that Parliament of Zimbabwe, equally, has the responsibility, on behalf of citizens, to hold ZEC to account periodically to foster a culture of transparency that should transcend all other functions of the public body.
It said that if the use of public funds by an election commission is shrouded in secrecy, then chances are high that the management of the elections themselves could also suffer the same fate.
‘We, therefore, encourage the ZEC to fully disclose its budgets and use of public funds as part of its efforts of building public and stakeholder confidence in its work. The ERC insists that in between elections, the prioritization of the use of funds by ZEC should be targeted at enhancing the integrity of the electoral process,’ ERC said.
It added that Zimbabwe cannot afford another disputed election.
In light of the above, ERC said that it recommended ZEC provide its accounts and financials to the Office of the Auditor-General for the years 2018 and 2019 for audit purposes, Parliament of Zimbabwe through the relevant Portfolio Committees summons ZEC to appear and be answerable for the failure to submit the accounts for audit purpose, ZEC to comprehensively consult election stakeholders and also provide its calendar of events and activities to ensure accountability to the citizens of Zimbabwe and to electoral stakeholders.