ERC Intensifies Electoral Reforms Agenda

Election watchdog, the Election Resource Centre (ERC)  is intensifying its efforts to have electoral reforms before the country goes for the 2023 polls.

In a statement Tuesday, ERC emphasized that for Zimbabwe’s elections to have credibility, there ought to be the right mechanism in place that allow for free, fair and democratic elections.

The watchdog said Zimbabwe’s previous have all been soiled by vote-rigging claims which are threatening voter apathy with two years left before the next polls.

“For the people’s will to be reflected in the outcome of any election, there is a need to strengthen electoral processes which are accepted by all and sundry.

“Zimbabwe’s elections have in the past suffered a credibility test which has resulted in
the electorate losing confidence in the electoral system,” the statement reads.

Recently, opposition leader Jacob Ngarivhume, together with activists Diana Saungweme, Lilian Chipati, Takaruza Tangai and Farai Muridzo handed the petition to the speaker of parliament demanding electoral reforms and were demanding a response by the today

The ERC is of the view that, for Zimbabwe to increase the credibility of elections, there needs to be an urgent need to address the following five (5) key areas:

1-Public Broadcaster and Media Coverage: 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 are important and must be objective,” ERC said

2-The Conduct of Traditional Leaders: 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.

ERC called on traditional leaders to remain political as in the past, the ruling party, Zanu-PF has used  Chiefs and Herdmans to garner support during elections.

“Traditional leaders should, instead, facilitate equitable access to communities by all parties
canvassing for support and ensure that the voter has access to information necessary to make
an informed decision at the polls,” the statement further stated.

ERC also called for the Independence of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) 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 in
transmission and political parties and civil society engagement,” the statement says.

Other noble reforms which the ERC is calling for includes the Conduct of The Security Services:

The organisation said security services must be professional, respect the rule of law and ensure that the electoral and political environment remains conducive for free and fair elections.

“The security services must respect the fundamental rights and freedoms of all persons and be non-partisan, national in character, patriotic, professional and subordinate to the civilian authority as established by the Constitution, (Constitution 211 (3).”

Furthermore, ERC said the Election Dispute Resolution (Mechanisms), must be functional and be ready to address any election-related disputes.

“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, ZRP and 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 also called for voter registration to be complemented with the implementation of
electoral reforms.

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