Electoral Reforms: Taking Stock of Observer Mission Findings in 2018 Ahead of 2023! Gaps, Opportunities and Key Demands

With the dawning of by-elections that will provide a litmus test for the 2023 elections, CIASA has produced a position paper assessesing Zimbabwe’s readiness for elections and the background in which they will be held. Read on to get informed on this important subject matter.


Following the proclamation of by-elections by President Emmerson Mnangagwa the Citizens in Action Southern Africa undertook an initiative of taking stock of electoral reforms based on various recommendations from observer mission reports and expert analyses on the possible measures for the improvement of the electoral environment in Zimbabwe. It is the best model towards understanding evidence-based shortcomings, gaps and opportunities for electoral reform going forward. Continuous improvement of electoral processes not only reinvigorates the fluidity of everchanging societies but is a pre-requisite for growing democracies towards strengthening and buttressing citizen aspirations as expressed periodically during elections. It goes without saying, from the onset, that elections are a process, consisting of an election cycle. Improvements to all aspects and seasons of the cycle are fundamental. This is best done by taking stock of previous electoral processes, recommendations thereof and feasibility for local circumstances. Heading towards 2023, it is fundamental for election stakeholders to have a clearer understanding of new demands for consistent and informed advocacy.

Election monitors addition to observers

The role of monitoring elections in Zimbabwe is primarily with ZEC. However, initial and contestable understanding of the Constitution of Zimbabwe is that it also provided for monitoring by the ZHRC. However, the new provision of in Section 40K of the Electoral Act reduces ZHRC to observers. To this effect, Section 40 (K) of the Act requires Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission observers to be accredited by the ZEC and requires the ZHRC to submit its draft report to the ZEC for comment and ZHRC “shall pay due regard to any comments the Commission may make on the draft.” Therefore, the reallocation of observer role for ZHRC must be challenged and a demand be made for their monitoring role as initially proposed in section 133 of the Electoral Act.

What new opportunities have emerged?

There are now developments since the 2018 election which allow for improvements in the electoral process if taken advantage of,

• Appointment of the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) Commissioners.
• Repealing of AIPPA; establishment of favorable laws
• Submission of CSO Model Law on elections to Parliament of Zimbabwe.
• Licensing of new TV and Community radio stations and their operationalization.
• Voter Education- funding, expanded stakeholders, procedures, and continued engagement.
• Voter Registration, access to the Rolls, open data, continuity procedures.

Read the full position paper here (397KB PDF)

Source: CIASA


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