Electoral Reforms Tracking Report: January-July 2021

This tracking report covers the period January to July 2021. It seeks to highlight developments in the electoral environment whether positive or negative, that have occurred during the period under consideration.

Following the harmonized 2018 polls, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) compiled a Compendium of recommendations from the different Election Observer Missions (EOMs) that observed those elections. It thereafter lodged a parliamentary petition that was duly embraced and considered by the Parliament of Zimbabwe (POZ). The petition sought to implore POZ to address a number of administrative, legal and political reform areas in the electoral landscape of Zimbabwe, from the pre-election through the election to the post-election period. These included among others, the inclusivity of the electoral process, the roles of the various electoral actors and others.

Pursuant to the petition ZESN drafted and submitted to the POZ, a Comprehensive Electoral Amendment Bill that would form the basis for electoral reform discourse in Zimbabwe. The lay Bill was duly received by the POZ through the Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs for its consideration. The Bill is a useful resource for advocacy around electoral reform for stakeholders across the board, from civil society through Members of Parliament (MPs) and relevant public institutions. The petition by ZESN synthesized the legal, political and administrative issues for reform in Zimbabwe. These ranged from legal issues, electoral environment issues, through to media and administrative issues, among a host of other issues. If addressed, these would contribute immensely to making Zimbabwe’s future polls more credible and less likely to yield contested results. Zimbabwe has had contested poll outcomes since the turn of the century, with a resultant polarized political environment.

ZESN continues with its advocacy efforts towards electoral reform. These revolve around the entire spectrum of electoral issues including the electoral environment, the independence of the Electoral Management Body (EMB), voter education, and the political environment, among others. In this regard ZESN continues to engage the relevant stakeholders, including the POZ, the EMB-the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), along other Constitutional Chapter 12 Commissions, political parties, members of the public, and civil society organizations (CSOs).

This report tracks developments in the electoral field within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic which has affected all countries globally. While some countries have adapted to conducting electoral activities under the pandemic, Zimbabwe has been selective. Consequent to the pandemic, by-elections due have not been held as per the constitutional dictates. The pandemic has been given as the basis for the failure to comply with the Electoral Law. At the same time, it has appeared apparent that some gatherings have been taking place throughout the lockdown, raising questions about the sincerity of the authorities. This report takes a thematic approach to the issues covered- the legal developments; women’s political participation; youth; and media issues.

Read the full report here (9MB PDF)

Source: Zimbabwe Election Support Network

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