Calls for urgent electoral reforms

HARARE - Stakeholders must urgently form a coalition to push for electoral reforms as Zimbabwe is less than two years away from holding polls, the Election Resource Centre (ERC) has said.

The reforms, ERC executive director Tawanda Chimhini said, will improve the electoral process.

He told the Daily News that Zimbabwe’s last four elections clearly proved that in the absence of electoral reforms, among other key factors, political parties — collectively or individually — stand a very slim chance not only to win but also to transfer and secure power.

“Electoral reforms are quite crucial in creating a fair playing field for contesting parties to engage in the electoral process on an equal basis as their counterparts already in government,” Chimhini said.

“They are also essential in terms of allowing voters an opportunity to freely express themselves in a manner that portrays their will,” he said, adding that the reforms will “also help in limiting opportunities for systemic manipulation of election processes, malpractice and fraud”.

He said for electoral reforms to be exhaustive, they must be premised on three key fronts namely; the legislative framework, administrative model and the political environment, which forms the context in which our elections are held.

“It is in the interest of all election stakeholders to ensure that these three issues are extensively improved ahead of the 2018 elections,” Chimhini said.

He said failure to effect the reforms “may lead to yet another contested electoral outcome”.

Chimhini emphasised that the electoral reforms are not about who will win the subsequent elections but, “serve to create a fair opportunity for any party or coalition to win elections and for the outcome of the election process to have the necessary integrity to secure acceptance from all if not most election stakeholders.”

“Parliament, political parties, Zimbabwe  Electoral Commission (Zec) together with other independent commissions, civil society and Zimbabweans should take elections as one of the priority areas for convergence as they may be part of the solution to the current economic and political challenges the country is facing.”

Chimhini said while the opportunity for putting up the necessary reforms still remains, “the window is slowly closing”.

“It will, however, take an assertive electoral management body that defines its independence and operates professionally and in an accountable manner.”

“It also needs political actors that respect the rule of law and exercise restraint and political maturity that is tolerant to divergent views,” he said.

Chimhini said some of the changes necessary to improve the electoral process require time to take effect and impact positively on the election itself.

“Securing these changes on the eve of the elections will not improve our elections because polls are a process not an event.”

Zimbabwe Election Support Network national director, Rindai Chipfunde-Vava, further said without comprehensive electoral reforms, 2018’s harmonised elections credibility will be at stake.

“The government must demonstrate the political will to implement a raft of reforms, including the adoption and implementation of a voter registration model that is inclusive and in line with principles of voter registration, comprehensive voter education, and mechanisms to address issues of voter intimidation, violence, and hate speech as well as guaranteeing equal access to the media, among other reforms.”

Chipfunde-Vava said there is urgent need to adequately resource Zec and capacitate it in order for it to execute its mandate timely and independently.

Comments (1)

I am really surprised that opposition parties are not taking seriously, the issue electoral reforms. What will stop Mugabe and his goons to NIKUV the elections again in 2018, if the playing field is not levelled? I understand that hunger has stricken the country yes, and everyone busy trying to survive to 2018, but then what when you reach 2018?? ZANU PF's Electoral Commission will still rob the people's victory from under their noses, if electoral reforms aren't instituted as soon as possible.

ZimVendorisedNation - 8 August 2016

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