RECENT pronouncements by officials in President Robert Mugabe’s government and ruling party regarding electoral reforms show disrespect for recommendations made by African observer missions to the 2013 general elections, a poll lobby group has said
Source: Zesn raps govt over electoral reforms – NewsDay Zimbabwe September 9, 2016
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
In a hard-hitting statement, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) said it was concerned by utterances attributed to senior government officials insinuating that there will be no electoral reforms before the 2018 elections.
“The utterances come against a background of numerous calls by civil society organisations and 2013 regional observer groups for the full alignment of electoral laws to the Constitution as well as for the creation of an enabling political environment,” Zesn said this week.
Zanu PF secretary for legal affairs and Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa, commissar Saviour Kasukuwere and secretary for science and technology, Jonathan Moyo have in the past few days declared there will be no more reforms ahead of expected crunch general elections in 2018.
Moyo, in particular, reportedly told journalists in Bulawayo: “Zanu PF will not reform itself out of power”, while Chinamasa claimed opposition parties will not get a “vote for-us law”.
While welcoming the enactment of the General Laws Amendment Act (2016), as a positive step, Zesn said this was not enough.
“Zesn reiterates its position that the reforms have been piecemeal, selective and inadequate. In addition, the slow pace of alignment of the country’s laws to the Constitution threatens the entrenchment of democratic values and raises questions on the constitutionality of future elections in the absence of substantive realignment and reforms,” the lobby group said.
“Zesn notes that there are still a number of pertinent reforms that need to be implemented as recommended by the African Union and Sadc 2013 observer missions related to the electoral architecture, the political environment and ZEC operations.”
The AU and Sadc observer missions in their reports indicated a litany of shortcomings that would require a review if the country’s electoral playing field is to be acceptable to all political players and meet regional guidelines on the conduct of elections.
According to Zesn, the AU and Sadc reports recommended that voter registration, the voters’ roll, voter education, access to election material, media access, special votes, the role of the police and legislation such as Public Order and Security Act (Posa) be reviewed to conform to the letter and spirit of the Constitution.
Zesn urged government to “demonstrate political will” in addressing issues around the independence of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, a major sticking point, with opposition parties, the political environment given continued incidences of violence, access to electoral material, media access and voter registration among other things.