Home » Governance » Watchdog Voices Election Reform Concerns

MARKING a year after the country’s last polls, election watchdog, Election Resource Centre (ERC), has expressed concern at the slow pace that government has adopted in making reforms that were recommended by various bodies soon after the contested vote.

In a statement Wednesday, the organisation said: “The ERC therefore encourages comprehensive electoral reforms that guarantee the consistency of the subordinate Electoral Act with the new supreme law of the land, the Constitution.

“The ERC calls upon Parliament to fully embrace its oversight role over not just the passing of legislation that fully responds to citizen demands and regional and international standards on the conduct of elections, but also compels ZEC to submit its July 2013 Harmonised Election Report which is six months late.”

President Mugabe, 90, romped to victory with a 62 percent majority of the national vote, in what his challengers felt was a stolen result.

But ERC said the country continues to hold new elections without implementing recommendations aimed at improving the credibility of the polls.

To date, a total of nine local authority by-elections, three run-off polls have been conducted since July 2013 elections, with similar by-elections pending in a further five local authority wards.

“ERC remains deeply concerned that the country’s election management authorities continue to hold elections in the absence of significant responses to the challenges recognised by accredited election observer missions, both domestic and international and acknowledged by the Zimbabwe Election Commission,” reads the statement.

ERC said it was however encouraged by the commitment made by the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs in Parliament recently when he indicated there could be another opportunity to make further amendments to the existing electoral laws.

“The Electoral Amendment Bill before the President falls far short of the recommendations for reform made by the African Union Observer Mission, COMESA, the SADC Observer Mission, the SADC Parliamentary Forum Mission, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network and the Election Resource Centre in their reports on the July 2013 polls,” reads the statement.

ERC said 31 July also marks eleven days before the day set aside to commemorate Zimbabwe’s heroes of the liberation struggle “men, women and youth who sacrificed their lives in a bid to guarantee universal suffrage (the right to vote)”.

This August, Zimbabwe is also hosting the SADC Summit, where the country will assume leadership of the regional body.

The SADC Principles and Guidelines were an essential benchmark used to assess the acceptability of the July 2013 polls.

ERC maintained the July 2013 poll was marred by a number of electoral challenges.

Chief among the challenges were issues around inadequate voter education, inadequate and inaccessible voter registration, a contested and inaccessible voters’ roll, a chaotic special voting process, lack of timely financial support to ZEC and the independence of ZEC from the Executive.

ERC insists that the obtaining post-electoral period must be characterised by inclusive and wide-ranging efforts towards correcting past electoral malpractices and attendant challenges through enactment of electoral legislation and institutional regulations which conform to international best practices for democratic elections.

Source : New Zimbabwe