By NQOBANI NDLOVU
THE Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) has urged political actors not to abandon the push for electoral reforms in the face of COVID-19 that has forced the country’s electoral body, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec), to suspend by-elections.
Zec has indefinitely suspended the holding of by-elections to prevent voters, polling officers and other electoral stakeholders from contracting COVID-19.
However, the independent electoral watchdog argued the global pandemic should not be used as an excuse to supplant the need to implement electoral reforms. Zesn said it would keep debate on the matter alive using various platforms.
“Zesn continues to keep the debate on electoral reforms alive, by among other things hosting webinars to review proposed amendments to the Comprehensive Electoral Bill drafted by the network,” the civic society organisation said in its weekly monitoring responses to COVID-19 bulletin.
“The network has this week held virtual meetings with its provincial representatives in the different provinces to share information, review the network’s programming, and opportunities to continue supporting various aspects of the electoral cycle during the COVID-19 era.”
According to Zesn, electoral reforms were necessary to strengthen the integrity of the country’s polls which are always marred by disputes, with the opposition citing rigging and manipulation.
Following the disputed 2018 general elections, there were several recommendations to Zec from local, regional and other international election watchdogs.
MDC Alliance has refused to recognise President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s victory citing electoral malpractices.
However, Zec has denied charges of colluding with Zanu PF to rig the elections.
Zesn has also called for the establishment of an electoral and political reforms taskforce bringing together political parties and other stakeholders to push for implementation of reforms to avert disputed polls in 2023.