The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) commends ZEC for adhering to the dictates of the law as espoused in the Electoral Act on the need for continuous voter registration. ZEC announced the resumption of electoral activities through a Press Statement, published in the mainstream media and its social media platforms on Tuesday 23 March 2021.
The Network is however irked by the continued suspension of by-elections without consulting stakeholders. ZESN calls on the ZEC to publicise and implement its COVID-19 Policy on Electoral Activities and outline how the Policy will be used to administer by- elections under COVID-19. Accordingly, selective application of the law by allowing for “some” electoral processes to be conducted at the peril of others is unendurable given the fact that the continuous suspension of by-elections closes up what is left of the shrinking democratic space and undermines the civil and political entitlements of citizens.
ZESN notes that the umbrella ban on electoral activities issued on 2 January 2021 through promulgation of Statutory Instrument 10 0f 2021 by the Minister of Health and Child Care which moved Zimbabwe to level 4 from level 2 of the National COVID-19 lockdown affected the voter registration exercise which had resumed during the last quarter of 2020. Voter registration, being a key component of the electoral cycle, has to be conducted on a continuous basis to keep the voter’s roll up to date.
The Network will continue to advocate for the institution of electoral reforms that are key in ensuring the holding of credible and fair electoral processes. Some of these reforms include; strengthening of the ZEC Independence and building trust and confidence; provision of continuous and more robust and inclusive voter education; transparency in key electoral processes delimitation; and representation of Special Groups (women, youth, and people with disabilities) among others.
More so, ZESN will continue to enhance the capacity of youths, women and People with Disabilities to advocate for electoral reforms by 2023 by facilitating sustained engagement between the ZEC and key electoral stakeholders such as political parties, Civil Society Organisations and relevant institutions supporting democracy throughout the electoral cycle. Further, in view of the COVID-19 context; ZESN will prioritize provision of Civic and Voter Education through media campaigns virtually and using radio since physical campaigns cannot be held at the moment mobilizing eligible voters, women, youth, and people with disabilities as well as marginalized groups to register to vote and if need be to transfer their registration. The move is meant to ensure enhanced and informed citizens’ participation in the voter registration exercise.
The government of Zimbabwe must not negate its obligation to adequately fund the Electoral Commission and to institute the necessary reforms to meet the constitutional benchmarks and regionally and internationally agreed standards.
Source: Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN)