Election advocacy group, the Election Resource Centre (ERC) has called on the country’s election stakeholders to ensure that past mistakes that led to a disputed 2018 plebiscite are not repeated.
In a statement on what the think tank is expecting ahead of the 2023 harmonised elections, ERC called for a raft of measures that ensure free and fair elections.
“Government should provide funding for objective voter education and electoral information campaigns. Voters should be well informed as to why voting is important, as well as where, when and how to vote. Voter education campaigns should extend throughout the territory of the country, including rural and outlying areas.
“The current standoff on access to the voters’ roll may result in electoral stakeholders losing confidence in the voters’ roll and consequently result in a disputed election outcome. The Commission’s inability or unwillingness to have stakeholders scrutinize the document continues to dent the Commission’s image and intentions. The voters’ roll must be availed to interested parties well in advance without undue hindrances as long as the request for such meets the legal requirements,” ERC said.
ERC said the right to challenge election results and for aggrieved parties to seek redress should be easily available.
“Access to an independent judicial review or other complaints and appeals processes and audit procedures should be provided so that electors have confidence in the electoral process. Cases must be dealt with swiftly and efficiently to cultivate public confidence in the election and in the justice delivery system. Courts and their presiding officers must be capacitated to handle complex election cases. Parliament must review electoral laws to provide remedies that are prompt, adequate and effective and enforceable within the context of the electoral calendar.
“Violence has no place in Zimbabwean society and particularly during elections. Political parties and leaders must publicly denounce the use of violence ahead of the campaigning season. The Electoral Commission, Zimbabwe Republic Police and the ZHRC must exercise due diligence to prevent, investigate and punish acts of violence. ERC notes that of late there have been increasing levels of violence against women and the elderly. These acts must be condemned and justice must prevail in order to guarantee a peaceful and free election,” said the think tank.
ERC said the elections must meet all the principles espoused by the Constitution of Zimbabwe in Section 155 and must be conducted in a transparent and accountable manner and citizens must have an equal opportunity to cast their vote and to do so in peace.
According to the timeline provided in the Constitution of Zimbabwe, elections are likely to be held between July-August 2023.