CSOs lobby Sadc for electoral reforms

Zimbabwean civic society organisations (CSOs) are in South Africa to try to persuade Sadc leaders to ensure that Harare implements electoral reforms ahead of next year’s elections.

BY OBEY MANAYITI

In an interview yesterday, ZimRights chairperson Passmore Nyakureba said CSOs wanted Sadc leaders to pressure President Robert Mugabe to respect Sadc principles and guidelines governing the conduct of democratic elections, as well as the rights of the people of Zimbabwe to vote freely.

“The Sadc People’s Forum has instead come up with a paper to be presented to heads of State tomorrow as they convene,” he said.

“The document summarises the demands of the people of Zimbabwe. The truth is Zimbabwe has moved far from regional attention, as more attention is on the DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo).”

Electoral Resource Centre (ERC) director Tawanda Chimhini weighed in saying the quest for an even electoral playfield must be taken seriously.

“Election stakeholders, particularly civil society organisations and political parties in Zimbabwe, have continuously called for comprehensive reforms towards peaceful, free, fair and credible electoral processes, with ERC emphasising on legislative, environmental and administrative frameworks guiding elections in the country,” he said.

Amnesty International said Zimbabwe needed to respect human rights ahead of the elections, as it also expressed concern over the attacks on journalists by the State.

“In Zimbabwe, Parliament has failed to realign laws with the Constitution adopted in 2013,” the organisation said.

“The authorities continue to use oppressive laws such as the Public Order and Security Act as well as the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act to suppress dissent and against journalists.

“Since last year, they have ramped up the clampdown against human rights defenders, suppressed peaceful public protests and in some cases prohibited public meetings.

“Police are regularly deployed to forcefully break up peaceful protests.”

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