Mnangagwa Reinstates Chigumba as ZEC Chair Amidst Election Controversies

Priscilla Chigumba to Lead Zimbabwe Electoral Commission for Another Six Years

by Oluwatosin Alabi

In a move that has stirred significant public debate, President Emmerson Mnangagwa has reappointed Priscilla Chigumba as the chairperson of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), entrusting her with the helm of the country’s electoral body for a second term. This decision, announced by the Chief Secretary to the President, Martin Rushwaya, has been effective since February 1, 2024, and extends her role for another six years, as per the stipulations of Section 238(5) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe (No. 20) Act 2013.

Priscilla Chigumba, initially appointed in 2018, succeeded Rita Makarau and has since been a central figure in Zimbabwe’s electoral process. Her tenure, however, has been marred by controversies, particularly surrounding the conduct and results of the past two general elections. The 2018 election results, which faced intense scrutiny and led to a Constitutional Court hearing, were a testament to the contentious nature of her first term.

The reappointment follows a turbulent period in Zimbabwe’s political landscape, especially after the August 2023 general elections. These elections were plagued by allegations of vote rigging and voter suppression, casting a long shadow over the integrity and efficacy of the electoral process. Critics have pointed fingers at the Chigumba-led ZEC for what they perceive as ineptitude and partiality, particularly after the commission’s delimitation report, which was accused of favoring the ruling party.

The decision to reappoint Chigumba is seen by some as a reaffirmation of President Mnangagwa’s trust in her leadership abilities, despite the previous election’s controversies. However, it has also raised concerns among opposition parties and civil society groups, who view this move as a potential impediment to the conduct of free and fair elections in Zimbabwe.

Chigumba’s reappointment has reignited debates about the independence and transparency of the ZEC. Her leadership will be closely watched, especially as Zimbabwe navigates through its complex political dynamics ahead of future elections. The ZEC’s role is pivotal in ensuring the credibility of the electoral process, which is fundamental to the country’s democracy.

The reappointment of Priscilla Chigumba as ZEC chairperson is more than just a political decision; it is a reflection of the ongoing struggles and aspirations of a nation striving for democratic integrity and transparency. As Zimbabwe moves forward, the eyes of the nation and the world will be on Chigumba and the ZEC, watching how they navigate the complex and often turbulent waters of Zimbabwe’s electoral politics.

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