ELECTION WATCH: ERC hails parliamentary interface

 

ELECTION Resource Centre (ERC) commends the Parliament of Zimbabwe for convening an all-stakeholders conference on the petition on electoral reforms submitted by the ERC and 14 other civil society organisations in September 2015.

ERC director Tawanda Chimhini said the spirit of engagement, dialogue and exhaustion on pertinent national issues is indeed laudable.

The conference brought together stakeholders from across the electoral landscape in Zimbabwe to dialogue on issues raised in the petition.

This followed public hearings held in seven districts across the country in October 2016.

“In coming up with a thorough report, reflective of the views of different stakeholders, it was enriching to conduct broad consultations with stakeholders. The ERC expects a subsequent report on the petition to objectively reflect perspectives from all stakeholders.

“The ERC acknowledges opinions from different institutions who presented at the conference.

“These were Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec), the Zimbabwe Republic Police, the Chief’s Council, the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC), the Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs ministry, the Attorney General’s office, the Information, Media and Broadcasting ministry, the academia and fellow civil society members.

“Notwithstanding some contending views, there was general consensus on the need for alignment and electoral reform. Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda aptly summed up the need for consensus building towards achieving credible, free and fair elections,” said Chimhini.

He said it is therefore imperative to note that electoral reform is a broad field requiring multi-thronged approaches.

“The ERC petition seeks to push for alignment of electoral laws to the Constitution through the Parliament of Zimbabwe.

While critical, alignment alone might not achieve the desired changes to the conduct of elections in Zimbabwe.

“Clearly, there is need for all stakeholders to focus on the comprehensive implementation of the existing laws. This emerged as a fundamental flaw of the electoral framework at the triangulation conference.

“Responsible institutions mandated by law to perform certain functions must be held accountable for the apparent weak implementation of existing provisions in the Electoral Act.

“The multi-thronged approach to electoral reform must also target challenging the constitutionality of some provisions in the Electoral Act which militate against credibility of electoral processes.”

Chimhini said it emerged that the biggest hindrance to align and implement reform is political will.

“This was buttressed by constitutional law expert Lovemore Madhuku insisting that the problem surrounding electoral processes in Zimbabwe is not wholesomely in the law but in implementation.”

Mudenda in his concluding remarks also reiterated the need for civil society and election stakeholders to target political will in seeking improvements in the electoral framework.

 

 

Parly convenes two-day triangulation conference

ELECTION Resource Centre (ERC), in collaboration with 14 civil society organisations submitted a petition to Parliament urging alignment of election-related laws with the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

The parliamentary portfolio committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs proceeded to conduct public hearings in Harare, Mutoko, Concession, Gweru, Bulawayo, Gwanda, and Mutare to gather public views on the petition.

Following the need to gather more evidence and corroboration, or vice versa, of issues raised in the petition and during public hearings, the Parliament of Zimbabwe convened a two-day triangulation conference from June 24-25, 2017 at Rainbow Hotel, Bulawayo at the behest of the ERC following submission of a petition in September 2015 urging immediate alignment of electoral laws with the Constitution.

The conference brought together an estimated 100 stakeholders from Parliament, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec), the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission, the Zimbabwe Republic Police, the Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs ministry, the Information, Media and Broadcasting ministry, the Council of Chiefs and civil society, for the first time under one roof to discuss electoral reform issues.

This was hailed as a historic development towards nation-building and particularly towards working together to ensure improvements in the country’s electoral cycle considering that the government of Zimbabwe has previously shunned engagement with civil society on electoral reform issues.

The ERC was presented with an opportunity to unpack the petition and defend petition issues ranging from independence of Zec, voter registration, electoral boundary delimitation, election observers, political environment, voter education, the right to vote and the Electoral Court.

The ERC did not only articulate implications of an unaligned Electoral Act but gave recommendations on best way forward regarding electoral democracy in Zimbabwe.

The same platform allowed stakeholders to extensively scrutinise the petition and appreciate how the current legal, environmental and administrative frameworks negatively impact on credibility of electoral processes in Zimbabwe.

The ERC said notwithstanding some contending views, there was general consensus among stakeholders on the need for immediate implementation of comprehensive electoral reforms and alignment of election-related laws with the Constitution considering the limited time before the next election.

 


‘Electoral processes must be inclusive’

POLL watchdog, the Election Resource Centre (ERC) has insisted that electoral processes being conducted must be done in a transparent and inclusive manner and urged the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec), to clarify the methodology used on the mapping exercise of the voter registration centres.

Recently there has been an outcry from political parties on the distribution of the proposed centres with allegations of strong bias against urban areas.

In an interview, ERC executive director Tawanda Chimhini said all electoral processes, including the mapping exercise which was done between February and April 2017, must be conducted in a transparent and inclusive manner.

“In the absence of a publicly shared methodology of the mapping exercise it is difficult to be convinced that the above principles have been exhaustively considered,” Chimhini said, adding that: “It is, therefore, prudent in the part of Zec to fully clarify how they have arrived at the number and distribution of the registration centres which will be used as polling stations.”

Chimhini said the election management body, in setting up the centres, must be guided by access, consideration of geography, population distribution and community interest.

“In the spirit of inclusiveness, Zec must be prepared allow a public and stakeholder review of the proposed centres before finalisation of the same. While Zec has a constitutional mandate to administer elections independently, ignoring concerns of stakeholders will diminish public confidence in electoral processes,” he said.

ERC, a think tank and advocacy institution on democracy and elections, has however acknowledged Zec’s engagement with political parties.

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