Critique of the ZEC 2018 Harmonised Election Report

Background

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) released its report on the 2018 harmonised elections in terms of Section 13 of the Electoral Act. The submission, long overdue, should have been within six months of the conduct of the election. ZEC indicated that, in accordance with Section 241 of the Constitution, the report was submitted to the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs in February 2019. Section 13 of the Electoral Act clearly stipulates that the submission of the report should be within six months of the election and must not only be to Parliament, but to the President, the President of the Senate and to candidates who contested the election. There was no indication that these election stakeholders received the report within the stipulated legal timelines. A request for the report by the Election Resource Centre (ERC) in March 2019 was rejected on the basis that the report would only be made public once it was tabled before Parliament. There is no provision in the law that places such conditions.

Contents of the report

While the legal framework for elections is silent on what should be contained in an election report by an election management body, international best practice dictates that such reports should ordinarily contain the following major elements; what the law provides, what happened, the challenges encountered, successes achieved and recommendations on how to improve the quality of future elections. The recommendations should be broken down into what the election management body commits to doing and what other stakeholders will need to do. Such a presentation of the report allows for an accountable account of the election process.

Presentation of the report

The presentation of the 2018 harmonised election report emphasized the quantitative aspects of the election process. The report highlighted what happened in the absence of matching what happened against what should have happened. Principles for elections in Section 156 (a) of the Constitution include simple, accurate, verifiable, secure and transparent and Section 155 (1) (a) also notes that elections must be peaceful, free and fair and free from violence. These principles as they relate to the quality of elections were mentioned five times collectively in the ZEC report. The context of mentioning the principles was in passing and in concluding remarks. Little attention was given to what ZEC did to give effect to the principles of what should be constitutional elections.

Source: Elections Resource Centre (ERC)

Download PDF full here (18.8MB PDF)