Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) held a post-2018 harmonised election conference on March 7 and 8, 2019 in Bulawayo whose overall objective was to review the conduct of the 2018 harmonised elections.
The focus was on the legislative and administrative framework, the political environment, role of observers, electoral reform process, and recommendations by election observer missions among other pertinent factors.
In attendance were representatives from the ministry of Justice Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, members of the Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Portfolio Committee, development partners, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec), political party officials and representatives, academia, media and local and regional civic society organisations.
The conference highlighted positive and negative issues that characterised the July 30 harmonised elections and identified key electoral reform issues for future elections.
The electoral environment in the run-up to the election was noted to be a significant improvement from previous elections with political parties able to freely campaign and canvass support.
In addition, other processes such as voter education and voter mobilisation by Zec and civic society organisations were much improved. Improvements were also highlighted in the voter registration and the resultant voters’ roll.
Some of the challenges identified by the speakers include; the inaccessibility of the voters’ roll to political parties on time, inequitable coverage of elections by the media, absence of accountability and transparency on political parties finance, misuse of State resources, absence of transparency in the design and printing of ballot papers, low representation of women and persons with disability, partisan involvement of traditional leaders in politics, under-registration in urban areas, and high candidates’ nomination fees among other issues.
The conference drew insights from presenters from the Sadc region and East Africa who shared their experiences in relation to electoral processes in their countries.