Zvamaida Murwira, Harare Bureau
Attempts by the MDC-T to discredit Zimbabwe Electoral Commission chairperson Justice Rita Makarau for holding three key offices, including being a Supreme Court judge and secretary for Judicial Services Commission, have exposed the opposition party’s hypocrisy as it endorsed the arrangement during the constitution making process when it was in the inclusive Government.
Constitutional law expert Professor Lovemore Madhuku yesterday urged the MDC-T to thoroughly read the Constitution.
This was after MDC-T spokesperson, Mr Obert Gutu, yesterday sought to cast aspersion on Justice Makarau, saying she should relinquish some of her positions.
Prof Madhuku rapped the MDC-T for hypocrisy when it was the opposition party that endorsed the arrangement through a Constitutional provision stipulating that one could not be ZEC chairperson when he or she is not a Supreme Court or High Court judge.
Section 238 (2) of the Constitution provides as follows: “The chairperson of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission must be a judge, or former judge or a person qualified for appointment as a judge.”
Prof Madhuku said the MDC-T were playing double standards by criticising an arrangement that they pushed for during the constitution making process.
“They included in the Constitution a provision which stipulated that you cannot be chairperson of ZEC when you are not a judge,” he said. “They were involved in putting up that provision which said you have to be a judge for one to be chairperson of ZEC.
“As long as that provision is there, it is difficult to understand what they are saying. They cannot have it both ways. That is double standards.”
Mr Gutu released a press statement denouncing Justice Makarau.
“The ideal situation is for Rita Makarau to only have one job at a time, especially taking into account the fact that being the ZEC chairperson is an extremely demanding job that should be a full time vocation, as is the case in most Sadc countries,” he said.
“We have absolutely no shortage of suitably qualified and experienced people to perform the other jobs that Rita Makarau is presently holding onto. The present state of affairs does not bode well for both efficiency and good corporate governance.”
Asked why the MDC-T was raising the issue now, Mr Gutu claimed that they were merely placing emphasis on a point they had made before.
The MDC-T has lost to Zanu-PF in all elections it has participated since its formation in 1999.
Political analyst, Mr Goodwine Mureriwa, said what the MDC-T was saying was an indication that it had panicked and had realised that they would lose the elections.
He said Justice Makarau had been holding the three positions since the time of the inclusive Government which the MDC-T was part of before the 2013 harmonised elections where it dismally lost to Zanu-PF.
Mr Mureriwa said it was in fact MDC-T leader, Mr Morgan Tsvangirai, who announced the appointment of Justice Makarau after he concurred with other principals in the inclusive Government for her appointment.
Other principals were President Mugabe and the then Deputy Prime Minister Professor Arthur Mutambara.
“Mr Tsvangirai actually said he was happy with Justice Makarau as she was professional,” said Mr Mureriwa. “They have now realised that time is fast running out as they are trying to put up an alliance and go to the people at a time when Zanu-PF is already on the ground.”
Another analyst, Professor Isheunesu Mupepereki said the MDC-T realised that they were staring election defeat.
“They are now raising issues that are not relevant, to get attention,” he said. “It is also another way of trying to get possible funding from their Western donors.”
Justice Makarau had not yet responded to questions sent to her through the Zec’s public relations department and the office of the chief elections officer, Mrs Constance Chigwamba, at the time of going to print.