Local elections pressure group, the Election Resource Centre (ERC) says the political environment prevailing in the country is not conducive for the holding of a free and fair elections in 2023.
The ERC statement comes on the back of incidences of intimidation and violence in the just ended by-elections held in Insiza and Matobo.
In statement, ERC said next year’s elections will be disputed and marred by political violence if electoral reforms are not implemented.
“The ERC noted that the sites of the by-elections were also plagued by potential corruption, especially from the ruling party because they were handing out fertilizer in Guruve RDC days before the by-election. ERC also observed that on election day, ZANU PF set up “information desks” outside polling stations in Guruve and Insiza collecting information from prospective voters, potentially intimidating and unduly influencing the electorate.
“While polling was largely peaceful, the ERC continues to be concerned that the political environment is not conducive for a free and fair election in 2023. Therefore, the ERC emphasizes the need for the Zimbabwe Republic Police, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission to take tangible steps in holding perpetrators to account.
“The ERC notes that unless electoral reforms are implemented, the 2023 Harmonised elections will result in yet another disputed election, marred with violence. The ERC also highlights the piecemeal principles that the Cabinet approved, although they fall short of the required level of reforms for a free, fair, and credible election,” said ERC
The pressure group called on the Government to refrain from using inputs and other intervention programs as a political campaign tool.
“To the Government of Zimbabwe: ensure that government inputs are not used politically as campaigning tools during elections. Government must take tangible action against the manifestation of violence and intimidation in the pre-election, election and post-election period,” the pressure group said
ERC called on Parliament to consult with stakeholders on reforms and the immediate implementation before the 2023 Harmonised elections urging citizens to practice electoral tolerance.