ERC pleads with Parly to disqualify ‘violent’ candidates

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The Election Resource Centre (ERC) yesterday pleaded with Parliament to order the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to deal with electoral violence in Hurungwe West and disqualify some of the named perpetrators.

BY VENERANDA LANGA

ERC director Tawanda Chimhini made the plea when he appeared before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs. Chimhini also said as at yesterday, Zec had not yet been advised by government how much they would be allocated for the June 10 by-elections, a situation which might severely compromise the whole electoral process.

“We remain worried about the political environment as we go towards the June 10 by-elections because violence in Hurungwe West continues to escalate and we have called on Zec to immediately take action. And this morning, Zec said they had written to the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission and the Zimbabwe Republic Police to ask them to investigate,” Chimhini said.

“However, our view is that Zec must take action because we have a code of conduct which says if there are violations, a candidate must be disqualified from participating because it does not make sense to proceed with an election if there is violence because this has a bearing on how people will vote,” he said.

He said there was no need to have five police officers manning one polling station because the exorbitant Zec budget was caused by the huge amounts paid to the police for security.

“During the Zibabgwe-Chirumanzu by-elections, we noted unfair media coverage on State media where we didn’t see coverage of other contesting political parties. We were surprised that although Zec refused voter registration for those who turned 18 during the June 2013 harmonised elections, for the two by-elections they did that which was good.”

On the state of preparedness to hold the forthcoming by-elections, Chimhini said it was unstrategic to hold the polls when there were limited resources and failure to re-align electoral laws with the Constitution.

He said during the pre-electoral period to the Zibabgwe-Chirumanzu elections, they noted some cases of intimidation where chiefs were used to instil fear in voters.

“There is need for swift introduction of Braille to reduce the number of assisted voters. Up to now, Zec has not yet advertised for accreditation of election observers for the June by-elections. We also want voter education to be done by many more qualified organisation, and giving false voter education must be criminalised.”