International Day of Democracy – The Gains of the Liberation War are Long Forgotten

In commemoration of the International Day of Democracy, the Election Resource Centre (ERC) urges the Second Republic of Zimbabwe to immediately enact electoral reforms and reinstate by-elections to ensure a return to participatory democracy and that citizens are equally represented in council and parliament.

The call comes at a time when the world is marking International Day of Democracy, which is observed annually on September 15th. The aim of this day is to encourage people and governments to uphold human rights and offer meaningful democratic participation. Despite promising to preside over a democratic government that respects the Constitution, rule of law, and mutual tolerance, it is regrettable that four years after these utterances by President Emmerson Mnangagwa and 41 years after independence, Zimbabweans are underrepresented in Parliament and Local Government, with rampant human rights violations that were tenets of colonial rule under Ian Smith.

The existing modus operandi betrays the men and women who gave their lives in order to wage battle against the colonial authority in order to get fair representation, equality and basic human rights. Zimbabweans battled for these fundamental rights, and they must not be jeopardized. Unfortunately, in modern Zimbabwe, more than 90 wards and 26 constituencies are unrepresented, without councillors or members of parliament. As a result, the country cannot continue to commemorate days such as the International Day of Democracy while democracy is not acknowledged.

The ERC explicitly emphasizes that calls for electoral reforms and the reinstatement of by-elections do not imply a push for regime change but are key for true representative democracy. Elections, however, have been characterized by violence, intimidation, and disputed results. The goal of democracy is to provide citizens with an environment conducive for open participation, free, fair and credible elections and a fair playing field in which political opponents have equal opportunities to reach various constituencies.

As a matter of urgency, the ERC urges the Second Republic to fulfill the pledges made during the 2018 election, the most important of which is the implementation of electoral reforms. The goal of the reforms is to improve the democracy embodied by the constitution. The current scenario in Zimbabwe demonstrates how the use of force, coercion and selective application of rules and procedures limits democracy.

We implore African nations generally and more specifically Zimbabwe to lead through the ballot box rather than the gun as envisaged by the African Union’s mantra of “Silencing the Guns” for Africa’s development.

Source: Election Resource Centre

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