FIFTY-THREE civic society organisations (CSOs) have agreed to launch a joint effort to lobby various stakeholders locally and internationally on the need to implement broad legislative, administrative and political reforms that guarantee free and fair elections.
Source: CSOs form alliance for reforms – NewsDay Zimbabwe November 9, 2016
BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn), in a communiqué released on Monday following a two-day CSOs stakeholder dialogue held in Bulawayo last week, urged the government to implement a number of reforms to ensure free and fair elections in 2018.
The civic groups said the 2018 elections would not be credible if held without substantive reforms and the alignment of electoral laws to the Constitution.
“We, the undersigned CSOs, having deliberated for two days at an all stakeholders conference convened by Zesn in Bulawayo, note with concern the half-hearted attempts and lack of political will to reform the laws and institutions governing the conduct of elections in Zimbabwe.
“We note with concern, that in the absence of meaningful legislative, administrative and political reforms, the 2018 elections will not be free and fair. Furthermore, without substantive reforms and the alignment of the electoral law with Constitution, the elections will be unconstitutional,” the communiqué read in part.
Some of the CSOs that appended their signature to the communiqué include Abammeli Lawyers for Human Rights, Bulawayo Progressive Residents’ Association, Christian Legal Society, Combined Harare Residents’ Association, Election Resource Centre, Media Institute of Southern Africa-Zimbabwe, Radio Dialogue, Veritas, and Media Alliance of Zimbabwe, among others.
“Having identified the aforementioned, we propose the following strategies to ensure sustainable reforms for democratic elections in Zimbabwe: Civil society will forge strategic alliances to push for reforms on identified key electoral issues.
“Civil society will undertake lobbying and advocacy initiatives for implementation of the constitutional provisions on free and fair elections. Civil society will continue to engage different stakeholders nationally, regionally and internationally in its advocacy for free and fair elections in Zimbabwe,” the communiqué said.
The CSOs resolved to also continue documenting human rights abuses and other electoral malpractices before, during and after the elections, while also engaging parliamentarians and independent commissions as “part of a multi-pronged advocacy programme for free and fair elections in Zimbabwe”.