The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) has urged Parliament to formulate legislation to withdraw funding to political parties involved in acts of violence during the campaign period.
By Tinotenda Munyukwi
This came in the wake of recurring episodes of political violence within the country’s main opposition party, MDC-T.
Appearing before the Parliamentary Thematic committee on Peace and Security yesterday, Zesn director, Rindai Chipfunde-Vava, said it was time for the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission ( Zec) to be empowered with legislative oversight in order to exert full power, when dealing with issues of political violence.
“Zec should have the teeth to bite, therefore, support Zec to ensure how they are going to necessitate a peaceful election. I know, for instance in Zambia, where the electoral body had to postpone elections because there were some cases of violence and in some cases some have even withdrawn funding for certain political parties,” she said.
“Our elections have been tainted by violence and for a credible election, it is important for citizens to enjoy fundamental rights like freedom of assembly, expression and whoever wants to contest an election or vote for any candidate should be free to do so.”
Chipfunde-Vava also questioned the oversight privileges enjoyed by the executive over the mandate and activities of Zec, saying this was contrary to best election practices the world over.
“There is need for Parliament to consider repealing executive powers in the electoral law, since the President is also an interested party in elections. We believe that Parliament should take that particular role of Zec supervision and Zec should report to a committee in parliament not to the minister who is also a contesting candidate come elections,” Chipfunde-Vava said.
She questioned the concentration of voter registration centres in rural areas more than urban areas, urging Parliament to engage Zec in ironing out such issues.