Final AU report on Zim elections

HARARE - While in the end, the ZEC was provided the necessary resources to conduct the 31 July, 2013 Harmonised Elections, the AUEOM observed with concern, that the funding was not consistent or timely at various stages and tended to generate undue anxieties.

To this end, it is recommended that there be greater transparency on; and adequate provisions of; logistics and resources to the ZEC for organising elections as prescribed in the OAU Declaration on the Principles Governing Democratic Elections in Africa (2002).

- The Voters’ Roll should be made available to all stakeholders for verification and inspection, in both electronic and hard copy format, at least 14 days before elections.

The integrity of the Voters’ Roll must be assured through greater transparency, accessibility and public communication, with strict adherence to the provisions of the relevant statutes in laws of Zimbabwe.

- There should be sustained public communication regarding the time-frames for special and intensive voter registration exercises and the closing dates thereof; to avoid unnecessary disputes and complaints.

- The AUEOM recognises the complexities of the special voting and the necessity of it, in equal measure.

The special vote allows for uniformed forces and the Zec officials deployed on Election-Day to cast their vote so as to dedicate time to electoral security, management and administration.

As noted earlier, this facility has engendered transparency in the conduct of these special votes, which were previously not subject to independent domestic or foreign observation.

However, to ease the strain on the Zec, it is recommended that further exploration be made by the Zec amongst Member States employing this facility to find ways of lubricating the process. Further, the requirements for persons to be afforded special voting privileges, may need to be subjected to inter-party and public dialogue to enable consensus-based outcomes.

- Security markings on ballot papers need to be improved (as in some instances, observers noted the poor quality of the inscriptions) to prevent any possibility of duplication.

- Zimbabwean authorities should reconsider the use of Police officers in assisting voters as it may unduly influence the manner in which they vote.

In future, authorities might wish to consider the reduction of parameters that necessitate persons to qualify as “assisted voters”.

The number of persons allowed to “assist” voters should also be reviewed with a view to reducing it downward from four.

- While the AUEOM acknowledges that the 6,4 million registered voters in the 2013 Harmonised Elections was relatively high, it calls for the greater involvement of non-state actors in civic and voter education throughout the democratic process to enhance and sustain participation in elections in future.

To this end, consideration must be made to review relevant sections of the Electoral Act to enable the wider involvement of civil society in these processes.

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