ZESN Tells Opposition Parties To Campaign For Electoral Reforms

Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) Chairperson Priscilla Chigumba

By Lloyd Takawira

INDEPENDENT electoral  watchdog Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) has implored opposition political parties to vigorously campaign for electoral reforms ahead of the 2023 general elections to avoid a cycle of disputed and flawed electoral process.

The comments from  ZESN comes following indications by the Inter-ministerial parliamentary committee tasked with aligning the Electoral Act to the national constitution which  indicated that it had completed the process of aligning the Electoral laws to the constitution. 

ZESN is of a contrary view and has made submissions to both government and Parliament. It has also contested the provisions (in the Electoral Act) permitting Executive interference in Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) affairs.

Accordingly  to ZESN  the recent move by ZEC to call off by-elections , shows that the Executive is in control of the electoral management institution.

“In October 2020, the overturning by government of a decision by ZEC to lift the suspension of by- elections demonstrated that the institution could not make decisions independent of approval by the government and the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs,” ZESN said.

ZESN also queried ZEC’s independence arguing that it’s  regulatory authority continues to lie in the hands of the parent ministry (Ministry of Justice), which is also headed by a minister who is a political player with direct interest in electoral outcomes.

However, for Kent University law lecturer Dr Alex Magaisa, ZANU PF has no incentive to implement electoral reforms therefore, the chances of achieving political reforms under the ZANU PF regime are remote.

Magaisa instead advised for what he termed an “effective rigging strategy” 

“An effective anti-rigging strategy is having eyes and ears on the ground during the election process. This simply means there must be election agents at each polling station. You cannot prevent rigging unless you have people at each polling station,” he said.

Zimbabwe has been reeling from a cycle of disputed election since the formation of the opposition MDC in 1999. 

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