Election watchdog, the Election Resource Centre (ERC) has called for an urgent address of key areas identified by election observer missions during the 2018 harmonised elections.
In a statement, the ERC said for the country to increase the credibility of its electoral process, there is a need to urgently election media coverage, the conduct of traditional leaders, the independence of the electoral body and election dispute resolution.
“All political parties must be granted equal media coverage by the public broadcasters and publishers. This ensures that citizens have access to information on all political parties and candidates contesting in elections as supported by the electoral laws. The media plays an important role in helping citizens to hold elected officials accountable thus access to information by voters and equal access to the electorate by parties and candidates is important and must be objective.
“As per the dictates of the Constitution of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Traditional leaders must not further the interests of any political party or candidate or in any way participate in partisan politics. Compliance with the law is of paramount importance in order to ensure a balanced political and electoral environment.
“Traditional leaders should, instead, facilitate equitable access to communities by all parties canvassing for support and ensuring that the voter has access to information necessary to make an informed decision at the polls,” ERC said
The electoral lobby group said the Zimbabwe Election Commission (ZEC) decisions must not be influenced by outsiders and called for the creation of election dispute mechanisms.
“In administering its constitutional mandate to oversee elections, ZEC must be impartial and independent. ZEC’s activities, decisions and roles MUST not be influenced by anyone. More so, there ought to be transparency and accountability (responsibility to justify actions or decisions) to citizens, political parties and independent observers.
“Ensuring verifiability (demonstration of accuracy beyond reasonable doubt) and inclusivity (providing equal access) of processes will enhance public confidence in the Commission. These processes extend to voter mobilisation and education, ballot printing, results transmission and political parties and civil society engagement.
“There is a need to create accessible and functional mechanisms that ensure that electoral disputes are resolved, strengthening confidence and ensuring the credibility of electoral processes. ZEC, the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) and the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) must ensure compliance with criminal and electoral justice systems including fair investigation and immediate redress of complaints and reports of violence. The mechanism of Multi-Party Liaison Committees must be decentralised to lower levels from the current national and provincial tiers.” ERC said.