Farayi Machamire 22 January 2018
HARARE – Election watchdog, the Election Resource Centre (ERC), has
petitioned President Emmerson Mnangagwa, urging him to set clear timelines
for the implementation of electoral reforms if at all he is sincere about
holding free and fair elections.
Mnangagwa has repeatedly said his government would hold free and fair
elections but is yet to put in motion amendments to electoral processes
that have caused perennial contestation of elections.
With less than five months to the eagerly anticipated elections, ERC
proposed immediate reform of electoral processes, in particular, the
alignment of electoral laws with the Constitution.
“A lot of these election processes are time-bound and if we have these
changes happening on the eve of the election they are immaterial,” ERC
director Tawanda Chimhini said.
“We have written to the president directly to say his statements in his
inaugural speech must find their way to practical steps that his
administration must begin to take. And these steps are centred on three
“One the legal framework, if the administration is serious about free and
fair elections the expectation is that we immediately see moves to align
our electoral laws.”
Chimhini said by now there should be clear dates by which legislative
reforms including the repealing of the Public Order and Security Act, the
Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, as well as
comprehensive media reforms, should be implemented.
He also urged the creation of a political environment that allows citizens
to freely participate in electoral processes and opening up our electoral
processes for international scrutiny.
“The political environment that comprises fairness of election with
traditional leaders campaigning for a certain political party is still
prevalent. If this administration is serious about free and fair elections
we expect the to tell traditional leaders that they have no right to
campaign for political parties,” Chimhini said.
The opposition has been on record calling for the presence of
international monitors and observers should be in place at least six
months before the election.
Turning to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec), ERC said lack of
electoral reforms compromises the independence of Zec and subsequently the
transparency, accountability and adhering to international best practice
regarding administration of electoral processes.
Zec recently embarked on a Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) mop up
exercise from January 10 to February 8, 2018.
At least 2 850 mobile and 87 static registration centres were established
across the country.
“While the extension of voter registration is commendable, the ERC notes
that the exercise was launched before the completion of adequate
preparations, procedures and communication.
“Further, the ERC is concerned that critical electoral processes continue
to be administered against the backdrop of an Electoral Act that remains
largely unaligned with the Constitution of Zimbabwe,” Chimhini said.