THE Election Resources Centre (ERC) and the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) have signed a memorandum of understanding to enhance the capacity of their monitors to carry out real-time monitoring of the forthcoming Bikita West by-elections.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
ERC director, Tawanda Chimhini confirmed the development yesterday, saying the pact would focus on training of monitors to enable effective monitoring of the by-election to be held on January 21.
“The ERC is working with the ZHRC to enable real-time monitoring of the by-election. The ERC has a memorandum of understanding with the ZHRC and has trained their monitors,” he said.
The Bikita West seat fell vacant after the imprisonment of former Zanu PF legislator Munyaradzi Kereke last year for raping a minor at gunpoint.
During the current pre-election period in Bikita West, some of the candidates have reported incidents of violence and tearing-up of their posters and campaign material by supporters of the ruling Zanu PF party.
“The campaign environment has largely been peaceful, but there have been pockets of violence reported. Among the victims are the National Constitutional Assembly candidate, Madock Chivasa, and his supporters and Kudakwashe Gopo, the candidate for Zimbabwe People First.
“There are also reports of traditional leaders being used to intimidate and force citizens to support the ruling Zanu PF, as well as vote-buying, as citizens are offered food hampers in exchange for their votes,” Chimhini said.
The ERC said the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission looked more prepared administratively in terms of voter education, registration and voters’ roll inspection, but argued more time could be given to these processes.
Chimhini encouraged all eligible voters to register to ensure they would be on the new system of biometric registration of voters in 2017.
“Zimbabwe is embarking on a biometric registration of voters in 2017, which consequently means all eligible voters must register to ensure they are on the new voters’ roll, as the current one will be deactivated,” he said.
Biometric voting data is aimed at limiting possible duplication and improve the identification of voters during voting. African countries that have made strides in biometric voter registration include Nigeria, Zambia, Sierra Leone, Kenya and Ghana.