Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa. FILE PHOTO: ANA

Justice Priscilla Chigumba has been appointed elections body Zimbabwe Electoral Commission's (Zec) new chairperson.

Chigumba replaces Justice Rita Makarau who resigned from the commission in December last year, a few months before  crucial general elections, the credibility of which will be the hallmark of the country’s future.

Zec deputy chairperson Emmanuel Magade said they were yet to be informed of any new appointments.

“We have not yet been formally informed if a new Zec chairperson has been appointed, but I have been getting a number of calls with people asking questions to that effect,” he said.

A letter from Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet, Misheck Sibanda, to Justice Chigumba, which was gleaned by the African News Agency (ANA) read: "His Excellency, the President of Zimbabwe, having consulted with the Judicial Services Commission and the Committee on the Standing Rules and Orders has the pleasure to appoint you as the chairperson of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission with immediate effect.

"You will be sworn in as chairperson of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission at State House tomorrow at 1000 hours."

A judge of the Supreme Court and chairperson of the Judicial Service Commission, Makarau stepped down in December last year under unclear circumstances.

She left the job a few weeks after former President Robert Mugabe had resigned.

Three female judges, who include Justice Elizabeth Gwaunza (Supreme Court) and Justices Loice Matanda-Moyo and Chigumba herself (High Court), were reportedly being considered.

Matanda-Moyo is wife to foreign affairs and international trade minister Sibusiso Moyo, a retired army general who actively took part in last year’s military intervention in the country which led to the stepping down of long-time ruler Mugabe.

In an interview with The Financial Times recently, President Emmerson Mnangagwa had indicated that Makarau’s successor would be a female;

“Currently, there’s no head. The head resigned, the chairperson of the commission . . . Makarau, resigned. I believe that by Friday, I will have appointed another ‑ this week. If the vice-chairperson is a man, the chairperson must be a woman. So I’m looking for a woman,” he was quoted as having said.

“Secondly, the woman must have been a judge or a lawyer qualified to be a judge. I had names brought to me by the Chief Justice [Luke Malaba] to say which judges ‑ the head of the Law Society ‑ which persons. So, we, of course, have several women who sent in their CVs . . . We believe that we need somebody with integrity, an impeccable record in terms of his or her CV. That’s what will guide us.”

- African News Agency (ANA)