IN spite of the polling dates not having been proclaimed yet, the country is in election mode now and it is important for the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) to stay ahead of the game.
Zec recently published timelines for when the elections can be held and what it hopes to achieve in the lead up to the polls like the voters’ roll deduplication exercise and its inspection.
This is a good way to inform the public and with such timelines, the electoral body can be held to account and it also has the opportunity to monitor and evaluate its activities.
However, there are some subtle elements to an election, which Zec should also be engaged in and informing the public on what it is doing about them.
With a certain increase in rallies and political gatherings, there is likely to be a ratcheting up of hate speech and the use of inflammatory language.
Zec should be in a position to publicly censure such parties and should not be just seen to be a paper tiger, whose preoccupation is timelines and delivering elections.
The election cycle is different each year and Zec should not approach polls in a ritualistic manner, but monitor the nuances of each poll differently.
There have been instances of intraparty violence recorded so far and the elections body ought to step in, as these are likely to snowball and mar the elections, even if they are just an internal matter at the moment.
This way, Zec would have nipped violence in the bud and shown it has the power to reprimand political parties, while failure to do so could precipitate a free for all, which could cascade into massive bloodshed.
A key element that Zec ought to be speaking to now is equal access to public media by all political parties participating in the elections.
The State broadcaster, ZBC, has for years been operating like the information arm of the ruling Zanu PF and there is need for Zec to step in to address this anomaly.
For elections to be free and fair, as envisaged by the government, equal access to public media is a key element for credible elections.
Thus, Zec has to ensure that every party gets access to State media and in the event that this does not happen, the elections body ought to and has a moral duty to step in and order the media house to follow the law.
While timelines are important, there are other things that will make or break the elections that Zec has to monitor and constantly give the public feedback on.