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Rights commission says too broke to monitor 2023 polls

Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission

THE Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) has warned that it may not be able to monitor the 2023 elections citing budgetary constraints.

In a report presented in Parliament last week, the ZHRC said it was understaffed and faced a number of operational challenges, all because of underfunding.

ZHRC said it failed to decentralise its services this year as planned because of poor funding.

“The commission bid for 2023 is approximately $13,3 billion, but received a ceiling of approximately $3,3 billion,” the ZHRC report read.

“Election monitoring exercise is a nationwide activity that requires adequate resources like capacitated staff and adequate vehicles that will be useful in the monitoring of the 2023 harmonised elections.

“For ZHRC to fully exercise its mandate in 2023, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development should adequately and timeously allocate funding to scale its national monitoring requirements for prisons, refugee camps, holding places, police cells, selected by-elections, emergencies and disasters.”

Under section 243 of the Constitution, ZHRC has the mandate to receive and investigate complaints of violation of human rights and administrative justice from the public.

The setting up of ZHRC was hailed as a milestone to address the country’s questionable human rights record.

“For the year 2023, the commission is grateful to have received concurrence to recruit 79 more people in light of decentralisation, but the budget ceiling does not provide for such costs. The approved structure now stands at 247 from 83.”

In a related matter, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) warned that growing litigation costs could leave it broke.

Zec chief elections officer Utoile Silaigwana said this before Parliament during the 2023 post-budget discussions.

Zec had made a bid of $128,7 billion for delimitation, voter registration, voter inspection and elections, but was allocated $96,1 billion.

“Since it is an election year, Zec may have challenges to clear litigation costs,” Silaigwana said.

“The commission will be able to cover 68% of the budgetary requirements for voter registration, inspection and conduct of elections. Service delivery may be compromised, considering that 32% of the budget was not allocated.”

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