Elections should be cost-effective: UN

HARARE - Eelections should be financially sustainable to ensure that resources are not put to waste, the United Nations’ (UN) resident coordinator Bishow Parajuli has said.

Parajuli, who was speaking at the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s (Zec) stakeholders’ engagement on voter registration early this week, said there is need for the country to adopt cost-effective elections.

“In a recent report, the UN has stated that member states are primarily responsible for organising cost-effective elections and for pursuing strategies that will eventually allow them to be self- reliant.  Costly elections are also a drain on national budgets, limiting public spending in other priority areas such as health, education and development,” he said.

Zimbabwe holds its next elections in 2018, and in 2013 the financially-challenged and landlocked nation spent $132,4 million on the harmonised polls that Zanu PF went on to win.

Parajuli added that since elections are a political process and not a technical issue, political parties have a responsibility to support the democratic process.

“Even for voter registration to succeed, there is a need for mobilisation of the eligible voters by political parties and other stakeholders such as civil society organisations,” Parajuli said.

He added that as a best practice, steps to clarify mutual responsibilities and an agreed mutual code of conduct by all parties should be adopted.

Zec chairperson Rita Makarau recently said the commission is looking for $55 million to migrate to the biometric voters’ roll for the 2018 before other expenses.

Makarau stated that Zec had four options to choose from but was opting for the biometric use of both facial and fingerprint identification so as to eradicate duplication.

She, however, said since Zec is an independent body, they would eventually have the final say even after consulting all political parties.

Last year, a report released by the Election Resource Centre claimed that Zec had inflated the costs of running the June 10, 2015 by-elections.

ERC argued that in 2013, Zec used $628 000 per constituency, translating to $22 per voter however, the figure had gone up to $70 in 2015 for the 18 by-elections that cost an estimated $36 million.

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