How to Conduct Elections Amid Covid-19: Options for Zimbabwe

Introduction

The world over, the outbreak of Covid-19 has had far reaching implications across many facets of life. Many countries have been forced to go on prolonged periods of lockdown interfering with the normal course of events. As a result, electoral processes have been rescheduled or postponed indefinitely in different countries across the globe. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), which had indefinitely suspended all electoral activities, has since issued a statement indicating that it would resume activities that do not violate lockdown measures using skeletal staff. It was explicitly stated in the statement that electoral activities that require gatherings will remain suspended. The earlier suspension of all electoral activities led to the postponement of two local authority by-elections. In the National Assembly, two seats that fell vacant during the lockdown are yet to be filled.

This paper seeks to present options for consideration if Zimbabwe is to continue with elections amid Covid-19. While borrowing from experiences in other countries, the paper remains cognizant of the need to recommend what is possibly feasible in the specific context of Zimbabwe. Insights from relevant literature such as the International IDEA’s Managing Elections under the Covid-19 Pandemic: The Republic of Korea’s Crucial Test and the Independent National Electoral Commission of Nigeria’s Policy on Conducting Elections in the Context of the Covid-19 Pandemic, INEC Policy Number: 01/2020 of 21 May 2020, inform the paper. Electoral processes that have been affected by Covid-19 in Zimbabwe include voter registration; Civic and Voter Education (CVE); political parties’ or candidates’ campaigns; elections administration preparations and logistics; polling; election observation; and electoral law reform initiatives, including public hearings.

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Source: Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN)