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Carter Center Issues Final Report On 2023 Zim Elections, Here Are The Recommendations

4 months agoTue, 13 Feb 2024 14:39:53 GMT
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Carter Center Issues Final Report On 2023 Zim Elections, Here Are The Recommendations

The Carter Center released the final report from its international election observation mission to Zimbabwe on 23 August 2023, on Monday, 12 February 2024.

In the 89-page report, the Carter Center offers recommendations to the Zimbabwean government to help bring its electoral processes closer in line with international standards for democratic elections. Part of the report reads:


In the spirit of collaboration and support for Zimbabwean institutions and people, and with a view to inform the electoral reform process, The Carter Center offers the following final recommendations for consideration by the government, National Assembly, Zimbabwean Election Commission, political parties and other electoral stakeholders.

To the Government and Parliament of Zimbabwe:

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  • Remove repressive provisions in laws such as the Maintenance of Peace and Order Act and the Patriotic Act, as well as the Private Voluntary Organizations legislation, to allow full participation of citizens in public affairs, including respect for the freedoms of assembly, association, speech, and the press, as established under the Zimbabwe Constitution and in line with the country’s regional and international human rights commitments.
  • To ensure a coherent electoral framework, review the Electoral Act and align it with the 2013 constitution and regional and international standards adopted by Zimbabwe, as well as best practices for democratic elections. The reform process should take place well in advance of the next election period, and within an inclusive and transparent consultation process.
  • Amend the Electoral Act to…
    • Enhance the autonomy of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and acknowledge its constitutional mandate through administrative and regulatory measures, without approval required from the Ministry of Justice. Introduce mechanisms to address the lack of public confidence in the impartiality and inclusivity of the ZEC’s appointment mechanisms as well as recruitment of lower-level election commission members. In addition to publishing the names of presiding officers in the official Gazette, publish clear selection criteria prior to recruitment.
    • Introduce provisions that prohibit misuse of state resources and the advantage of incumbency, to promote and contribute to a more level playing field. Authorities should be sensitive to all instances of abuse of state resources and take timely and effective action to address any violations.
    • Encompass campaigning on social media, giving the ZEC a mandate to monitor the campaign on social media, and the power to investigate, warn, and sanction violators.
    • Ensure that the ZEC informs the public on a regular basis in order to increase and maintain transparency and enhance its credibility, including through briefing papers posted on its website and regular briefings for candidate representatives and observers in a timely and consistent manner.
    • Ensure that the ZEC publicizes promptly all scanned protocols and election results, disaggregated by polling station.
    • Ensure that the ZEC publishes regular, disaggregated updates of the voters’ roll to increase transparency and help build trust in the accuracy of the registration process. Also, require the ZEC to provide copies of the final voters’ roll in a user-friendly format and in a timely manner.
    • Guarantee the representation of young women on proportional representation seats with stronger safeguards for priority listing, supported by sanctions and incentives, including financial, such waiving nomination fees for young candidates.
  • Review and amend existing mechanisms aimed at promoting youth and women’s participation to ensure greater representation in elective offices in line with the constitution and in close consultation with all relevant stakeholders.
  • To enhance trust in the judiciary, protect its independence and preserve the role that it plays in safeguarding the human rights and freedoms, amend the appointment procedures for judges to guarantee separation of powers and to not allow for executive involvement in the selection of High Court judges.
  • Amend the legal framework to
    • Clearly delineate the jurisdictions of the High Court and the Electoral Court to avoid any overlap or delays. The timeframe for election-related disputes should be shortened to ensure adjudication of cases under expedited procedures, especially if filed on election day or the days preceding it to allow complainants to fully exercise their rights.
    • Clearly distinguish which types of complaints could be examined by the ZEC in public sessions with clear procedures and timelines in place, while the ZEC’s decisions on electoral matters should continue to be subject to appeal in court.
    •  Ensure that any security deposits required by the courts to cover potential settlements are not prohibitive to enhance access to justice.
    • Amend the legal framework to prohibit campaigning by civil servants and senior officials on social media and provide for enforcement mechanisms and proportionate sanctions
  • Revisit and revise Sections 129 and 278 of the constitution, regarding recall processes, to include more safeguards against abuse or manipulation by political parties and leaders seeking to settle political scores.
  • Introduce regulations on campaign expenditures, including regular submission of financial reports by political parties/independent candidates, the publication of financial reports accessible to the general public; and the introduction of graduated sanctions for violations of campaign finance regulations.
  • Introduce a mechanism to ensure that political parties and candidates comply with any campaign finance regulations put in place, and that trained and competent professionals within an independent institution are mandated to audit campaign expenses.
  • Repeal legal provisions criminalizing free speech online and offline, such as those in the Patriotic Act and the Cyber and Data Protection Act (CDPA).
  • Introduce mechanisms to ensure that the accreditation of election observers is the sole responsibility of the ZEC.
  • Introduce enabling legislation to ensure that political parties respect the constitutional provisions regarding the participation of women, youth and people with disabilities.
  • Support the selection and nomination of women candidates, including for proportional representation seats, by requiring their inclusion on party lists and applying incentives and sanctions to parties that do not comply with the requirements, including financial.
  • To increase participation of people with disabilities in political life, introduce enabling legislation to introduce temporary quotas for people with disabilities for the National Assembly, provincial/metropolitan and local councils with mandatory requirements for political parties to nominate people with disabilities supported by sanctions. This should be preceded by a participatory consultative process with relevant stakeholders.

To the Government of Zimbabwe:

  • Put in place effective mechanisms to protect space for participation in public affairs for all stakeholders and to reassure civil society and other stakeholders that they are free to operate and can do so without repercussions.
  • Implement proportionate sanctions with effective enforcement for the partisanship of traditional leaders and state and local officials.
  • Ensure that access to the internet is affordable and reliable, particularly during peak periods of public interest events, such as national elections.

To the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission

  • To uphold the principle of equality of the vote, implement constituency boundary delimitation in line with constitutional requirements. Delimitation should take place well in advance of the next election period and within a transparent consultation process.
  • To give voters equal access to voting, complete all pre-election preparations, including delivery of ballots to polling stations, within legal deadlines.
  • To increase and maintain transparency and credibility, provide information on a regular basis and allow for meaningful observation of activities. Information on the ZEC’s decision-making and all other activities should be made available to the public through briefing papers posted on the official website and regular briefings for candidate representatives and observers in a timely and consistent manner. Consider developing a proactive communication strategy for the public in general and for political parties in particular.
  • Promptly publicize all scanned protocol and election results, disaggregated by polling by polling station.
  • Publish regular, disaggregated updates of the voters’ roll to increase transparency and contribute to building trust in the accuracy of the voter registration process.
  • Improve the comprehensiveness and accuracy of the voter registry.
  • Decrease nomination fees and simplify payment procedures to allow all citizens an equal opportunity to engage in political processes and stand as a candidate.
  • Standardize accreditation for voter education as well as for observation of various stages of the electoral process.
  • Conduct more comprehensive voter education over a longer period in advance of elections. ZEC’s efforts should cover the right to vote and stand for office, along with all voting procedures, the voters’ roll, and the tallying of results. Also, encourage and facilitate CSO engagement in voter education in a timely manner. Engage CSOs well in advance of the polls and allow them to use their own materials and methods.
  • Ensure the timely public release of information related to media coverage of the election and consider the publication of regular media monitoring results.
  • Provide detailed and easily accessible information on media-related complaint mechanisms.
  • Guarantee citizens the right to privacy of their personal data, and protection against unsolicited information, including political propaganda during election periods.
  • Conduct investigations in a timely manner and hold perpetrators accountable.
  • Lift accreditation requirements for representatives of mass media outlets to promote pluralistic and unimpeded reporting on the election campaign.
  • Provide sufficient lighting in all polling stations, including temporary sites such as tents, to improve visibility for voters with visual impairments so they can vote without assistance.
  • Reduce or eliminate accreditation fees for observers (international and domestic) to encourage robust engagement of civil society in elections.
  • Implement and follow special procedures and safeguards to ensure secrecy of the police, military, and other institution-based voting.
  • Fully utilize MPLCs as an alternative dispute resolution mechanism. MPLC meetings should be held on an agreed-upon schedule and their work based on clear processes. to enable the ZEC to more readily resolve disputes.
  • Conduct more rigorous and targeted efforts to register young (first-time) voters. including in rural and remote areas, as well as young people with disability.
  • To promote more active participation of people with disabilities in electoral processes, improve disability-related data collection and analysis in various stages of the electoral process, including voter registration, voter education, candidate nomination, and polling.
  • Introduce additional measures to guarantee the right to vote in secrecy, and enable voters with visual impairments to vote without assistance, such as tactile ballot guides, as well as improved lighting in polling stations, including temporary structures such as tents, or by adjusting the voting hours.

To the Judiciary

  • Provide access to information on election-related cases and consider timely publication of a complaints register on the web to enhance the transparency of the dispute resolution process.

To the State-Owned Broadcaster

  • Discharge your constitutional and legal duties, and ensure fair and impartial treatment of
    all candidates.

To All Stakeholders

  • Act collectively to prevent the use and spread of misinformation, derogatory, or incendiary speech.

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