A Functional Democracy is Characterised by Free, Fair and Credible Elections

The Election Resource Centre (ERC) joins the rest of Zimbabweans in celebrating 41 years since the country attained independence, reflecting on the journey the country has walked so far, based on constitutionalism, good governance, transparency and accountability and regular elections all rooted in the 1980 elections which gave birth to Zimbabwe.

Elections since 1980
Elections are significant to any society as they safeguard the people’s rights to select their representatives, one way for citizen voices and opinions to be guaranteed. Zimbabwe continues to confer this right to citizens ensuring that elections are religiously held as and when they are due. However, the role of elections in Zimbabwe has since deflated as electoral malpractices and grievances characterize the electoral environment.

A democratic Zimbabwe
Since 1980, political polarization largely influenced the electoral environment undoing the idea of democratic, free, fair and credible elections. The independence of Zimbabwe must be informed by strong, impartial institutions, rule of law, constitutionalism and the observation of human rights. However, Zimbabwe continues on a path of electoral malpractice, state capture and infringement of human rights.

The urgent need for electoral reforms
Disputed elections have become the norm in Zimbabwe with the alleged intimidation of supporters of opposition parties and civic society, abuse of state resources, partisan political activities by security services and traditional leaders as well as the biased state media. There is need for urgent implementation of electoral reforms to attain a functional democracy. Zimbabwe has not yet conducted an election that meets standards set out by national, regional internationally set frameworks. Therefore, the onus is on the State to ensure the implementation of electoral and political reforms to ensure a level playing field and consolidate the gains of the liberation struggle.

Recommendations

  • Implement electoral reforms ahead of impending by-elections and in preparation of the 2023 harmonized elections.
  • Reform the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) looking at the ZEC’s personnel, practices and administration.
  • Reform the legal framework for elections looking at the Electoral Act, all election related regulations and procedures focusing on constitutionality and international best practise.
  • Reform the conduct of the state media in electoral processes.
  • Reform the conduct of the traditional leaders in political processes.
  • Reform the role of the military in civilian affairs.

Source: Election Resource Centre