MUTARE– Residents have called for institutional capacitating of the electoral commission through adoption of international best practices in holding of elections.
Speaking at a consultation meeting on electoral reforms organised by the Electoral Resource Centre, residents said the independence of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) will be guaranteed by the appointment of new board of independent professionals.
Residents also made various recommendations, including calls for extensive and continuous voter education, which they said will ensure the practice of elections are free and fair.
Zim Rights national chair Passmore Nyakureba said there was a need for institutional redress of ZEC, particularly how the institution operated financially.
“The nation does not need strongman to lead its institutions rather we need to have stronger institutions with the right laws to govern operations that way we can develop as a nation.
“ZEC therefore does not need a strongman to lead rather we need institutional capacity for them to operate,” he said.
Jeffrey Nyamana a resident said the Registrar General’s should be distanced from the ZEC to ensure that registration of voters is not clouded by controversy surrounding Mr Tobaiwa Mudede’s office.
He said the RG’s office had superintended over the mess in the voters roll, in some instances with duplication of names as well as retaining of names of deceased people.
“We do not want the RG’s office near the voters roll because the current problems all trace back to Tobaiwa Mudede because we have names of our deceased grandfathers still appearing on the voters roll,” he said.
There were also calls for the voting process to be friendly to vulnerable group of people with disabilities.
Phyllis Munzvongi said as visually impaired they expect government to have a quota of brail voting slips to ensure that their needs are met.
“As the visually impaired we want the polling stations to have brail coded voting slips to enable us to participate with minimal assistance as this limits our right to secret ballot because we are assisted,” she said.
ERC projects officer for Research and Publications, Collen Chibango said this engagement with communities was necessitated there due to the knowledge in the public body over developments in the electoral legislation.
He said they have since petitioned the Parliament of Zimbabwe over a raft of proposed amendments, pushing the national assembly portfolio committee to hold public consultations.
“There have been a lot of changes in the Electoral legislation over the past years but there has been a gap of knowledge in the public body over these developments that why we are engaging civic organizations to get this essential information.
“We have submitted a petition to parliament over electoral reforms and they will soon be coming to provinces for consultations over this petition,” he said.
“The parliamentary portfolio committee will come down here soon and this will provide an opportunity to give input as ordinary citizens over the electoral reforms.”
Part of the petition by ERC, calls for enhancing of ZEC’s independence, reviewing of legislation negatively impacting the political environment, review of provisions relating to voters registration and enhancement of voters education.
ERC also appeals for extension of the franchise and right to vote for people in the disapora, reconstitution of the Electoral Court in compliance with the Constitution and the extending of an exclusive role to invite observers limited to ZEC.
Mutare residents also signed in support of the petition while calling for the Electoral Court to treat all election related issues to be treated on an urgent bodies as a well as repeal of double accreditation of media personnel for electoral purposes.