The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has just announced plans to run 3 local authority by-elections between January and February 2019. These by-elections have been called in accordance with the law.
While welcome in terms of compliance with standing legal provisions, the ERC urges the election management body to use the by-elections as testing ground for operational and administrative reforms necessary to address the inadequacies noted by observers during the 2018 harmonized election.
It would be unfortunate if the same challenges used to dispute the 2018 election outcome were to be repeated in by-elections conducted between now and 2023.
The ERC maintains that not all electoral reforms require the law to be changed. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission can make administrative changes to the conduct of polls based on the constitutional provision that they must ensure elections are conducted efficiently, freely, fairly, transparently and in accordance with the law.
Some of the administrative reforms based on observation reports that ZEC could institute ahead of by-elections include fully publishing the preliminary and final voters’ rolls, transparently and regularly cleaning up the voters’ rolls, posting voters’ rolls outside polling stations for easier referencing by voters, establish a transparent results management system backed by published official returns from each polling station, transparent management of postal voting in accordance with provisions of the law and sufficiently enforcing the electoral Code of conduct for political parties.
Small steps towards instituting electoral reforms as suggested through administrative procedures can go a long way in improving public confidence in elections and in the election management body.
Source: Election Resource Centre