Chigumba Decries Abuse At The Hands Of MDC
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) chairperson, Justice Priscilla Chigumba has complained over the abuse she suffered at the hands of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leaders and supporters in the run up to the July 30 harmonised elections.
Making her submissions before the Commission of Inquiry into the 1st of August violence today, Chigumba narrated how she and other female ZEC commissioners became punching bags of both emotional and sexist abuse at the hands of the Nelson Chamisa led MDC Alliance party, before, during after the elections.
Chigumba said on three separate occasions, she and other commissioners, felt that their lives were at risk as MDC Alliance supporters and leaders continuously threatened them both on social media and in person.
“On two separate attempts, this other political party threatened to invade our offices and they wanted to confront us on their demands which they wanted to be addressed a few days before the election,” she said.
“We had our department receive the political party and attend to their demands which we had heard previously. We had about 10 or 17 demands but they still continued to persist on us to hear them further,” said Chigumba.
“The political party would picket our offices and would come back with the same demands. On our side, we felt that there was nothing to discuss because the demands they wanted, were not in the electoral act. The law was clear, and our position was very clear too, there was nothing we could do to assist them with,” she added.
The former High Court judge said her persona was vilified in public and in most demonstrations by the MDC-A, had her pictures torn and labeled with unprintable words.
“On the third occasion, through social media they let it known that they would picket our office, and that is when we sought the services if the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP).
“You could see that in the lead up to the elections, for about 10 days, there was a heavy presence of police at our offices as we feared for our lives. We were unable to carry out our duties at the office as we did not come in,” said Chigumba.
She further admitted that Zimbabweans had little faith in her commission due to the previous running of elections.
“Zimbabweans don’t trust ZEC because of what happened in the past and what happened in the 2018 elections,” she said.
She accused the MDC-A of being ignorant to the law despite the party housing lawyers.
“We held engagements with these political parties and there was no consensus because they could not understand what the law said.
“We ended up compromising so that everyone would be catered for. What I would urge political parties is that they must take this time while in Parliament to change the laws that they are not happy with so that we do not have the same situation again in 2023,” said Chigumba.
She bemoaned the continued abuse she still faces at the MDC-A rallies together with other commissioners.