Civil society organizations (CSOs) have called for a roadmap that will ensure free, fair and credible elections premised on constitutionally aligned electoral laws and effective electoral administrative arrangements, among other issues.
In addition, the political environment should allow citizens to make free and informed choices on electoral processes, a statement issued by the Zimbabwe Election Support Network on behalf of civil society said Thursday.
The CSOs said there were five fundamental requirements which must be completed before the country can hold credible elections, most likely in June or July this year.
“The first requirement is the urgent introduction of a new electoral law that is fully aligned to the constitution. This is necessary to provide a satisfactory legal framework for free and fair elections and to foster democratic values.”
Previous efforts by the government to implement electoral reforms had been piecemeal, selective, inequitable and inadequate, they charged.
“In the absence of substantive legislative realignment and reform, it will be difficult for Zimbabwe to hold credible elections.”
The CSOs said there was also need for the creation and implementation of a complete, accurate, inclusive and current voters’ roll which was free from any politically motivated bias.
In the past, there have been allegations of ghost voters on the roll, including names of people who would long be dead.
“A valid voters’ roll is prerequisite for the credibility of any election and is an important tool in improving the efficiency of the electoral management body. The right to vote and to contest elections should be enjoyed by all eligible citizens including women, the youth and people with disabilities as provided for in the constitution.”
They added that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) should extend the right to vote to all eligible Zimbabweans including those in hospitals and prisons and reinstate special voting.
Special voting was used during the 2013 elections to allow elections officers who were not based in their wards to vote, but ZEC said it would not repeat it because it did not have enough resources.
Then ZEC chairperson Rita Makarau said special voting had been troublesome from a logistical point of view as they had to track down nearly 55,000 police officers from their wards to their stations.
The SCOs also called for a truly independent electoral commission which was highly professional, adequately resourced and which adhered to regionally and internationally accepted norms of accountability, inclusivity, transparency and integrity.
The political environment should also guarantee fundamental political and human rights, hence the need avoid violence, intimidation, patronage, propaganda and hate speech particularly in the media, they said.
They added that the invitation of observers should be delinked from the executive to enhance the integrity of the elections. Enditem