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ZESN Renews Call For Electoral Reforms As Zimbabwe Celebrates 44th Independence Anniversary

1 month agoFri, 19 Apr 2024 12:45:51 GMT
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ZESN Renews Call For Electoral Reforms As Zimbabwe Celebrates 44th Independence Anniversary

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) has reiterated its call for comprehensive electoral reforms that will bring to an end the cycle of disputed elections in the country.

In its statement marking the country’s 44th Independence anniversary, ZESN noted the achievements brought about by self-rule, among them one man one vote which ensures universal suffrage.

ZESN said that since gaining independence in 1980, Zimbabwe has consistently conducted periodic elections at constitutionally set intervals.

The country established the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to manage elections, where voting takes place in a single day, and results are counted at polling stations.

Additionally, the implementation of Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) has been a crucial step in enhancing the electoral process.

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ZESAN, however, said that the 2023 Harmonised Elections were helped without significant electoral reforms. It said:

Independence Day also comes at a time when ZESN is advocating for electoral reforms, urging the government and all electoral stakeholders to reconsider proposals submitted by ZESN and various Civil Society Organizations (CSOS) during the previous electoral cycle to enhance the credibility and integrity of elections. This call comes against the backdrop of the 2023 Harmonised Elections, which were conducted without significant electoral reforms.

Although in 2022, the Zimbabwean government made amendments to the Electoral Act through the Electoral Amendment Bill, such as removing the driver’s license as proof of identity, ZESN believes these changes primarily addressed nominal and administrative reforms, overlooking crucial reforms essential for transparent and credible elections.

Substantive electoral reforms, which stakeholders had been advocating for, were omitted from the amendments to the Electoral Act.

Zimbabwe’s founding tenets are rooted in respect for the Constitution, the rule of law, fundamental human rights and freedoms, diverse cultural, religious and traditional values, gender equality, good governance and regular elections, stemming from the election results of 1980 that led to the transition to Independence.

Since the emergence of strong opposition in the 2000 elections, Zimbabwe has conducted disputed elections characterised by allegations of vote rigging and politically motivated violence. Said ZESN: 

Despite the country conducting regular elections every five (5) years, ZESN emphasizes the need for the government and political parties to establish an environment conducive to upholding the basic tenets of democracy.

This includes promoting a multi-party democratic political system; conducting credible elections; enhancing the rights of all political parties and citizens; and promoting transparency, justice, accountability and responsiveness.

Elections play a pivotal role in allowing the electorate to select leaders for governance and decision-making positions.

In the run-up to the 2023 general elections, ZEC conducted a controversial delimitation exercise. Later, ZEC clung to the voters’ roll and opposition candidates had to approach the courts to force ZEC to release an analysable voters’ roll without success.

ZESN also called on elected leaders to enhance accountability mechanisms to citizens as part of efforts to uphold the essence of good governance and democratic principles. It said:

In its quest for a Zimbabwe where democratic election principles are upheld, ZESN reiterates its call for comprehensive and timely strengthening of the progress made thus far in improving the quality of elections.

This includes aligning electoral laws fully with the Constitution; strengthening ZEC capacity and accountability to conduct electoral processes effectively and transparently; fostering a political environment conducive to holding free, fair, peaceful and credible elections; ensuring adequate representation of marginalized groups; electoral stakeholders to have access to justice, reduced election-related violence and adopting alternative dispute resolution mechanisms as well as instituting an efficient and transparent results management process.

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