The proposed code of conduct for political parties is unlikely to contain punitive measures for perpetrators of violence, but will depend on the goodwill of the political players to maintain peace.
The draft Zimbabwe Political Parties Code of Conduct for Elections, penned by the Organ on National Healing and Reconciliation, has been given to political parties and other stakeholders for consideration and their input.
According to a copy seen by NewsDay, a code of conduct monitoring and communications committee will be formed at national, provincial and district levels, to discuss issues of concern during the electoral process.
But the committee’s major duties will be to monitor parties to ensure they adhere to the code as well as foster a spirit of goodwill among themselves.
The drafters noted for a voluntary code of conduct to be successful, there should be “buy-in by all the parties to the principles underlying the code of conduct”.
“For a voluntary code of conduct to be useful, the parties must be committed to its principles, and honour these in spirit as well as in letter, and implement it with common sense of natural justice and in good faith,” reads the code.
The code calls on all parties that will subscribe to the code to adhere to existing election laws, rules and regulations, respect the right and freedom of other parties to campaign and to disseminate their political ideas and principles without fear as well as respect the rights of other parties, voters and the public.
Political parties are also urged to respect the freedom of the Press and not to “harass or obstruct journalists who are engaged in their professional activities; disrupt, destroy or frustrate the campaign efforts of any other party”.
Parties are also expected not to “prevent the distribution of handbills and leaflets, and display of posters of other parties and candidates, deface or destroy the posters of other parties and candidates, prevent any other parties from holding rallies, meetings, marches or demonstrations, seek to prevent any person from attending political rallies of another party”.
Speakers at political rallies are expected not to use language that is inflammatory or defamatory or that incites violence while parties are expected not to distribute pamphlets or other material that threatens or incites violence.
Parties are expected to issue directives forbidding officials, candidates, members and supporters to intimidate any persons.
They are also expected to campaign against violence, vandalism and public disorder.
“The leader of a party that has subscribed to this code will instruct the party’s officials, candidates, members and supporters that no weapon of any kind, including any traditional weapon, may be brought to any political rally, meeting, march or other demonstration.”
The use of State, provincial, municipal or other public resources for campaigning has been barred as well as offering monetary or other inducements to persons to vote for or against a particular party or candidate.
During the election process the parties are expected to co-operate with election officials to ensure, peaceful and orderly polling.
Parties are expected to ensure the safety and security of electoral officials, respect and co-operate with accredited election observers as well as to maintain and aid the secrecy of voting.
“A party that has subscribed to this code will, (a) accept the outcome on an election that has been certified; (b) submit any grievance only to the relevant dispute settlement agency, and (c) accept and comply with the final decisions of the dispute settlement agency,” reads part of the draft code.