THE Election Resource Centre (ERC) has commended the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) for taking steps towards implementing desired electoral reforms.
BY STAFF REPORTER
ZEC, which has been under fire from opposition parties and other electoral watchdogs over the manner it presided over elections in Zimbabwe, plans to test-run its proposed polling station-based voter registration in the Marondera Central by-elections on September 16.
“The Election Resource Centre acknowledges and applauds the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission for taking a step towards the full realisation of legal provisions around polling station specific voter registration and voting through the proposed and currently underway voter registration process for Marondera Central by-election set for September 16, 2015,” the electoral watchdog said.
“The process of introducing such a process is long overdue and had it been done in earlier by-election, may have gone a long way in ensuring the Commission’s full compliance with election laws thus contributing to more credible election processes.”
However, the organisation warned that the polling station-based registration should not be used to intimidate and instill fear in the electorate as it will be easy to identify the voting trends.
“In the context of Zimbabwe where election related violence is condoned and tolerated by the absence of clear enforcement provisions in the event of violations of provisions contained in the Electoral Code of conduct, a simple migration from ward-based registration and voting to polling station registration and voting would easily expose already vulnerable voters to election violence and intimidation prior to and after voting,” the ERC said.
“Polling specific registration and voting makes it easier to identify voting trends and assign election results to specific communities, a process that would be difficult to undertake in ward based registration and voting.”
The election watchdog added that some unscrupulous politicians might try to disenfranchise certain unwanted voters who were likely to vote for their opponents.
ERC said there should be an enforcement of a binding electoral code of conduct among political parties that should have deterrent penalties for parties who breached it and stifle peaceful elections.