Letters: Zec should address stakeholders’ concerns

File pic: A mock exercise by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission on the use of the Biometric voter registration registration kits

On December 26 2022, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) took a significant step toward fair representation for all Zimbabwean voters by submitting the preliminary delimitation report to President Emmerson Mnangawa. The preliminary report presents the wards and constituencies as delimited by the commission during the delimitation exercise.

While the report has generally resulted in a more equitable distribution of voters across the 210 constituencies in Zimbabwe, the Election Resource Centre notes concerns raised by stakeholders on the report. Main concerns being the calculation of the allowable “variance” for the number of registered voters per constituency and ward. The alleged erroneous methodology used to calculate the variance potentially discredits the delimitation process.

The underlying principle of the delimitation process is to ensure the equality of the vote. Hence, the ERC urges the commission to address the concerns raised by stakeholders. Failure to adequately address the issues raised may result in the final delimitation report being contested and thus affecting its use for the 2023 harmonised elections. A return to the pre-existing 2007/2008 boundaries goes against the principles of the equality of the vote as the boundaries of the current constituencies and wards are grossly unequal.

Inclusivity and transparency in addressing the concerns raised will ensure buy-in of all relevant stakeholders.

The commission is expected to ensure maximum transparency of the procedures and their outcome. This is vital to guarantee the credibility of the electoral process, secure the confidence of the voters and respect the aspirations of the Constitution.

Given the short-time remaining for the delimitation report to be adopted for the 2023 harmonised election, ERC calls on all significant stakeholders, in particular the electoral commission, Parliament and political parties, to step up, address the issues brought up and carry out their mandates. - Election Resource Centre

African leaders must level playing field

POLITICS in Africa is a dog-eat-dog situation; there are no permanent friends, only permanent interests. Most of the African States do not acknowledge the two terms in office for a sitting president. As long as the incumbent wins an election, he can rule for ages without end.

The playing field, when it comes to elections, is never free and fair. In most cases, the ruling party assumes many responsibilities — being the referee, the assistant referee and in-field player all at once. To add salt to injury, most of the African presidents view themselves as demi-gods.

These presidents grant themselves the liberty to insult all and sundry, while those who are insulted and demeaned must remain mum. Any attempt to retort is met with detention by the overzealous unprofessional police force.

In their bid to strengthen their stranglehold on power, some African presidents have accused opposition leaders of planning to assassinate them, though no tangible proof is available.

It has become the norm that opposition leaders in Africa are always terrorised and criminalised.

A few African countries have tried to level the playing field when it comes to politics.

For example, in South Africa, the media tries to report fairly. The State broadcaster, South African Broadcasting Corporation, provides live coverage of opposition rallies.

It is against this background that a lot of reforms must be implemented by African States, that is: judicial reforms, electoral reforms and that government business must be separated from party business because governments will change, but the State always remains. - Citizen

We expect free, fair elections

AS the year 2023 begins, Election Resource Centre notes the hype with the anticipation of an election in less than six months Zimbabwean citizens will elect presidential, parliamentary and local council leadership who will represent them from 2023 to 2028. Elections in Zimbabwe play a very crucial role in Zimbabwean politics, economics and social structure at large just like in any other democracy.

The following are some of the key issues that ERC would like to bring to the attention of Zimbabweans and key institutions and stakeholders in the electoral process:

Voter registration: Zec must take effective measures to ensure that all persons entitled to vote are able to exercise that right before the proclamation of the Harmonised elections.

Voter education: Voters should be well-informed as to why voting is important, as well as where, when and how to vote. Voter education campaigns should extend throughout the territory of the country, including rural and outlying areas.

Voters roll: The current standoff on access to the voters roll may result in electoral stakeholders losing confidence in the voters roll and consequently result in a disputed election outcome.

Delimitation of wards and constituency boundaries: The delimitation of boundaries should respect the Constitution and the international norm of equal suffrage.

Election management, administration and operations: Zec must execute its mandate independently, impartially and in a gender-sensitive manner, irrespective of its composition.

Electoral justice: The right to challenge election results and for aggrieved parties to seek redress should be easily available. Cases must be dealt with swiftly and efficiently to cultivate public confidence in the election and in the justice delivery system.

Media access: Fair media access by all political candidates and parties for campaigning and advertising purposes will be important for the 2023 election.

Violence in elections: Violence has no place in Zimbabwean society and particularly during elections.

Conclusively, “genuine elections” must consist of an election calendar, timeous elections, universal and equal suffrage, secrecy of the ballot and free, fair and credible election management by Zec. During the course of the year, the ERC will continue to work hand in hand with all Chapter 12 institutions, Parliament and all election stakeholders to deepen the transparency of elections in Zimbabwe. - ERC




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