MDC-T chief whip Innocent Gonese on Tuesday called on stakeholders to demand that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) uses the public tender system in the procurement of ballot papers as part of measures to promote transparency and guard against stuffing of ballot boxes during elections.
BY OBEY MANAYITI
Gonese, who was giving his views at an Election Resource Centre (ERC)-organised workshop to deliberate on the Electoral Amendment Bill, said it was important to put regulations that make it impossible to rig elections.
Parliament is set to debate the Electoral Amendment Bill and several parties have forwarded their different positions.
“It is very important to be clear about the issue of ballot printing because in the past that was one of the things which could be used to manipulate the actual processes, so we are now at a stage where the Electoral Act prescribes the maximum number of ballots at not more than 10%,” Gonese said.
“It is in line with the best international practices. Let there be transparency and openness so that everyone knows where the ballot papers are going to be printed.
“Everyone must know where the electoral materials are going to be procured so that we don’t have those suspicions. Electoral observers must be given that latitude,” he said.
In previous elections, the opposition has accused the ruling Zanu PF of rigging.
Gonese also said Zec must have powers to disqualify some candidates bent on cheating their way to victory.
He also said the courts must be quick to deal with complaints raised during elections.
“When it comes to post election justice, it is very critical that those who cheat their way to victory can be challenged in court without too many technicalities being placed in front of the petitioners so that it is also treated as an ordinary application,” he said adding any concerned citizen can take up the matter.
Zanu PF’s Fortune Chasi said suggestions to give Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission a lesser role during elections, playing second fiddle to Zec, violates the Constitution.
“The ZHRC is an independent commission and it must not be subjugated under another commission, it must execute its mandate freely and in accordance with the Constitution. That to me means it can go out and monitor in the same manner that it deals with other human rights issues,” he said.
“Elections are a human rights issue and there is no reason why we should then detract from its independence,” he said.
Among other topical issues discussed was the gender balance during election time.
This comes at a time the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) has expressed concern over delays by Parliament to reform the Electoral Act in line with constitutional provisions.
“Zesn reiterates its position that the country’s electoral laws are significantly inadequate, thus the need for urgent reform to create an enabling framework for the holding of free, fair, peaceful and credible elections,” Zesn said in a statement.
“The network calls upon legislators to put aside political differences and finalise the reform process especially given the imminence of the 2018 elections.”