These calls for elections come amid the constitutional reform process which has the potential to alter the legal framework.
These developments have given Zesn the impetus to call for minimum conditions for the holding of democratic elections in Zimbabwe.
There is need for concerted efforts to address a number of outstanding issues that have a bearing on the conduct of democratic elections.
Zesn urges all Zimbabweans and key stakeholders to start not only preparing for elections but to also call for critical reforms forthwith.
Zesn is of the view that there are basic issues that need to be addressed if Zimbabwe is to have a democratic election.
In this paper we provide a summary of issues that the government, civil society and Zimbabweans need to take cognisance of before any elections are held in Zimbabwe.
Zesn continues to advocate for the creation of a conducive environment that will facilitate the holding of free and fair elections in Zimbabwe.
Our demands regarding the creation of a conducive environment speak to the adoption of the new constitution by way of a referendum, the dismantling of all infrastructure of violence, equal freedoms for all political parties, demilitarisation of all state institutions, the reforming of all repressive legislation, respect for the doctrine of the separation of power among other vital reforms.
New, accurate voters’ roll
Zesn conducted an audit of the voters’ roll and there are a number of issues that emerged which could affect the outcome of the electoral process which we feel must be addressed before elections are held. First and foremost, we believe that there must be a fresh registration process of all eligible voters.
This will deal with the concerns of under-aged voters, nonexistent voters as well as the deceased. Further to this demand, the voters’ roll must be easily accessible by all through both hard and electronic copies.
There are a number of reforms which Zesn believes have to be taken aboard and these include the reform of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), which will entail the commission being fully resourced and given the whole mandate to deal with electoral issues in the country.
Zesn calls for local, regional and international observers to be accredited by the Zimbabwe electoral commission instead of the current scenario where they are accreditated by the foreign affairs ministry.
There mustn’t be cherry picking of observers and preliminary assessment teams should be allowed access now to assess the political environment and to do post election follow-ups.
We believe that there must be licensing of more television and radio stations in order to create the much-needed media diversity and plurality. ZEC must fully enforce the code of conduct for media coverage and ensure equitable coverage of all political players, non-negative coverage, and hate speech.
GPA Article 18 in focus
ACCORDING to the GPA, signed in 2008, principals in the inclusive government agreed to maintain the security of persons and prevention of violence in order to achieve political ends.
This is mentioned in Article 18 of the GPA which says:
18. Security of persons and prevention of violence.
18.1 Noting the easy resort to violence by political parties, state actors, non-state actors and others in order to resolve political differences and achieve political ends.
18.2 Gravely concerned by the displacement of scores of people after the election of March 29, 2008 as a result of politically motivated violence.
18.3 Recognising that violence dehumanises and engenders feelings of hatred and polarisation within the country.
18.4 Further recognising that violence undermines our collective independence as a people and our capacity to exercise our free will in making political choices.
18.5 The parties hereby agree:
(a) To promote the values and practices of tolerance, respect, non- violence and dialogue as means of resolving political differences;
(b) To renounce and desist from the promotion and use of violence, under whatever name called, as a means of attaining political ends;
(c) That the government shall apply the laws of the country fully and impartially in bringing all perpetrators of politically motivated violence to book;
(d) That all political parties, other organisations and their leaders shall commit themselves to do everything to stop and prevent all forms of political violence, including by non-state actors and shall consistently appeal to their members to desist from violence;
(e) To take all measures necessary to ensure that the structures and institutions they control are not engaged in the perpetration of violence.
(f) That all civil society organisations of whatever description whether affiliated to a political party or not shall not promote or advocate for or use violence or any other form of intimidation or coercion to canvass or mobilise for or oppose any political party or to achieve any political end;
(g) To work together to ensure the security of all persons and property;
(h) To work together to ensure the safety of any displaced persons, their safe returns home and their enjoyment of the full protection of the law.
(i) To refrain from using abusive language that may incite hostility, political intolerance and ethnic hatred or unfairly undermine each other.
(j) That while having due regard to the constitution of Zimbabwe and the principles of the rule of law, the prosecuting authorities will expedite the determination as to whether or not there is sufficient evidence to warrant the prosecution or keeping on remand of all persons accused of politically related offences arising out of or connected with the March and June 2008 elections.