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ZEC pushes for free polls

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Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) commissioner Theophilus Gambe yesterday called for the enactment of a law that compels political parties to be registered well before an election to allow for accountability and monitoring of their activities.

In an interview with NewsDay on the sidelines of the political parties’ conflict management training workshop co-organised by ZEC and the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa in Bulawayo, Gambe said it was important for the country to register all political parties and monitor their activities to avoid incidents of political violence.

“Registration of political parties is important. It is a good idea as it presents a situation where they are known and their whereabouts are fully established as well as their position,” he said.

“This gives a chance whereby they are not left out in meetings such as these.”

Zimbabwe has no specific law that compels parties to register.

Political parties are defined in the Electoral Act (2004, 4(1)) as “any political organisation”, while the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Act (2004, 2) defines a political party as “an association of persons with the primary object of which is to secure the election of one or more of its members to a local authority or parliament, or to secure the office of president, or to campaign for a specified result at a referendum”.

Gambe said the situation in other countries, including the United Kingdom, Tanzania, Australia and South Africa, was inspiring, “and Zimbabwe would benefit from registering political parties even before the election period”.

“The problem of not registering a political party lies in that when elections are about to be conducted, several political parties just spring up,” he said.
“We want political parties to behave properly and we want to build a national ethos based on the principle of peaceful elections and electoral competition.

“Zimbabwe will definitely experience a free election. We are trying our best to avoid violence.
“Political parties are a crucial component in this exercise as they are part of the major stakeholders of a successful election.”

The workshop was attended by 25 political parties.

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