via ‘Civil society took eye off election ball’ – DailyNews Live 30 SEPTEMBER 2013
Civil society in Zimbabwe is guilty of celebrating minor issues during the tenure of the inclusive government instead of pushing the reform agenda ahead of the election, Election Resource Centre (ERC) director Tawanda Chimhini has said.
At a discussion convened by political think tank, Zimbabwe Democracy Institute (ZDI) last week on progression and regression post-the unity government, Chimhini said civil society has to change its approach, if it is to attain democratic reforms. The opposition has alleged fraud in a July election that kept President Robert Mugabe in power.
“The GNU was supposed to drive and conclude the reform agenda but we tended to be contend with little morsels of reforms like wording of the Constitution and appointment of a commissioner to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) purportedly supported by political parties,” Chimhini said.
“However, we forgot that commissioners do not run the electoral process it is the secretariat that some quarters were clamouring for the audit of the same. The secretariat remained compromised up to election day and to this day nothing has happened or changed.”
In a report issued just before the July 31 vote, ZDI claimed that the Zec secretariat was infested with members of state security arms.
Chimhini said civil society failed to push for reforms and was silent when the country plunged into polls without fundamentals such as the voters’ roll.
“It baffled my mind that we all agreed to go to election and seemed to turn our attention at every turn to Sadc even on the issue of the voters roll,” Chimhini said.
“This despite the fact that internal political jostling revealed cries for tangible voters’ rolls.
“Opposition political parties cried foul that they went to elections without the voters’ roll.
“How then did we expect a transparent and inclusive election without the register of who will vote and where?”
The ERC director said issues to do with transparency of the election management system, transmission of results and accountability were never dealt with prior to the July harmonised poll.
“We instead concentrated on cosmetic changes to the Constitution and Zimbabwe is still the only country in the region where election results are transmitted using police walkie-talkies,” Chimhini said.
“The July election is still in-auditable despite the Constitution demanding that any election has to be auditable. Civil society lost touch with the people and in Sadc saw the Alpha and Omega of our problems. We forgot Sadc was not Zimbabwe.”