The Zimbabwe Peace Project welcomes the appointment of Justice Priscilla Chigumba as the chairperson of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission. We remember Justice Chigumba for the judgement in 2016 striking down the ban on opposition and activists protests in Harare, a clear demonstration then that she is not afraid to make unpopular decisions to uphold human rights.
More of these brave decisions will be needed in her new position to ensure that the right to vote for all citizens is protected and upheld.
The ZPP has been clamouring for ZEC to put a stop to intimidation and harassment of registered voters through the forcible recording of serial numbers. The intimidation and harassment has often been accompanied by misinformation about the BVR process. Taking advantage of this gap some political activists were telling villagers that the BVR machines are a surveillance tool which will expose how people will vote. This struck fear in the hearts of some citizens. Others have been collecting serial numbers purporting to be acting on behalf of ZEC. Misinformation has been allowed to thrive as citizens do not have access to credible and accurate information on the BVR programme which is new in Zimbabwe.
The ZPP is concerned that there is limited information in mass media setting the record straight or challening this misinformation. After acknowledging the problem through the acting Commissioner we expect ZEC to rectify the situation by putting the correct information out through the most effective channels. The ZPP would like to implore Justice Chigumba to remedy the misinformation by making clear pronouncements on the matter through wide reaching information campaigns.
ZPP reminds ZEC that prospective voters have a right to access information that is important for them to exercise their right to vote. In the spirit of promoting the right to access to information as well as advancing the right to vote we urge ZEC to:
- Run infomericals on radio, television and print media against misinformation around BVR
- Engage political parties to remind them of their responsibilities
- Engage CSOs to assist in information dissemination
- Work with the police to ensure the arrest and prosecution of those demanding serial number and intimidating those who would have registered to vote.
Source: Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP)