ZEC to regulate access to media

THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) is soon going to control access to State media, in an effort to ensure equal coverage for all political parties, while the body will also be monitoring hate speech.

REPORT BY SENIOR PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER

“ZEC views the ingredients for a free and fair election as including an environment that is free of violence and intimidation, an election where members of the citizenry are free to go and choose the leaders of their choices and a process that allows each candidate or political party equal access to information about the process, without any attempt by the body conducting the vote to manipulate the results in favour of one or more contestants,” ZEC chairperson, Justice Rita Makarau told the Parliamentary Thematic Committees on Peace and Security yesterday.

State media have often been accused of partisanship, particularly the broadcaster ZBC and The Herald, which openly support President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF while denigrating political opponents.

The Parliamentary committees had invited ZEC to speak on what was needed for the holding of peaceful and fair elections, as well as the body’s preparedness to run them and the on-going voter registration exercise.

Justice Makarau, appearing with her deputy Joyce Kazembe, said ZEC was prepared for the forthcoming polls.

“We are prepared to hold elections that have been proclaimed within the confines of the law and we have committed ourselves to say if elections are called within the minimum requirements of the law, we will be ready,” she said.

Kazembe said people in the Diaspora will not be allowed to vote, while police officers and embassy employees will have a special vote.

“People at embassies, police or army on outside postings will vote using a special vote, but everybody else in the Diaspora is not catered for by the law,” she said.

“There is a body that has been mandated to monitor hate speech and it is an electoral offence.”

Kazembe said ZEC had no relationship with the security sector, maintaining that “our relationship is only with the police”.

She told the committee that 30 political parties had shown interest to contest in the harmonised elections.

Justice Makarau said they had requested $150 million for elections, but only $25 million had been disbursed.

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