BY VARAIDZO MUDEWAIRI
THE Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) has called on the Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) to penalise member States who keep violating the bloc’s election guidelines.
In a statement yesterday, Zesn said there should be transparency in the counting poll results to curb incidents of disputed polls.
Zimbabweans go to by-elections tomorrow to fill 28 vacant National Assembly and 105 local authority seats.
“As the overseer of electoral processes in the region, Sadc must adopt more hands-on and robust approaches to electoral violations in member States. Where there are repeat offences, Sadc must highlight this and take strong action to prevent them in future. Strong penalties for violation of Sadc guidelines on elections will incentivise member States to fully realise its principles and values,” Zesn said.
On electoral disputes, Zesn said they should be resolved administratively by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec).
“Provisions that have led to the highly unsatisfactory outcome of the Chegutu West constituency election should be reformed to make sure it never happens again and to reignite confidence in elections.”
It also called for fair application of the law across all political actors as selective application suggested bias, which affects the credibility of the polls.
Zesn called for full enforcement of rules that punish perpetrators of electoral violence and other electoral malpractices as they destroy public confidence in electoral processes.
“Eight years after the Constitution was adopted, political rights and freedoms are still to be fully implemented in the electoral law. This misalignment between the Constitution and the Electoral Act does not inspire confidence in the electoral process.
“The voter registration exercise which by law must be continuous should be intensified in the years between elections to relieve pressure in the months immediately preceding the election.”
Zesn said the delimitation of constituencies should be done fairly so that citizens are adequately represented.
“The last delimitation took place in 2008 and current electoral constituencies no longer accurately represent the population in the relevant areas. Zec needs both financial and operational independence. It is also important to remove the perception that it is militarised by carrying out a human resources overhaul to more accurately reflect a non-partisan picture.”