A NEW pre-election survey commissioned by a consortium of local civil society groups, We Pay You Deliver (WPYD), has revealed that at least 65% of the country’s urban voters had lost confidence in the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec)’s capacity to conduct free and fair elections.
BY TATENDA CHITAGU
The survey carried out in Bulawayo, Harare, Chitungwiza, Gweru, Mutare and Masvingo between August and October last year, but released recently, also found out that both the electorate and political parties do not prioritise council elections which have been overshadowed by parliamentary and presidential elections due to harmonisation of the polls.
The consortium comprises of 10 organisations, namely the Danish Church Aid, Combined Harare Residents Association, Harare Residents’ Trust, Bulawayo Progressive Residents’ Association, Habakkuk Trust, Women’s Institute for Leadership Development, Gweru Residents Forum, Chitungwiza Residents Trust, Zimbabwe Women Resources Centre Network and Diakonia.
A total of 3 640 respondents aged 18 and above participated in the survey.
“More than 65% of the respondents think that the 2018 elections will not be free and fair. Respondents pointed three main indicators of a free and fair election as the independence of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), absence of violence and the ability to campaign freely.
“The integrity and credibility of an electoral management body in the eyes of the electorate is fundamental in any functioning democracy. Despite this, about 65,7 % do not trust ZEC. Therefore, significant public confidence building measures should be undertaken by ZEC,” reads result of the local government elections survey titled, “The uncertainty of 2018”.
“Voters and political parties place low priority on council elections. About 14,4% prioritise council ahead of presidential and parliamentary elections. More than 55 % of the respondents think that political parties do not prioritise council elections.”
Most of the respondents (47,7%) rated as poor performances of city mayors and called for the re-introduction of executive mayors because existing ceremonial mayors do not have power to make sound decisions in council (more than 60 % respondents said so). The report also urged civic society organisations to raise awareness on the importance of council elections to the electorate.
Presenting the 31-page survey report in Masvingo yesterday, DCA research manager Davison Muchadenyika urged political parties and the electorate to take council elections seriously and appoint competent councillors.
“A local government election is an opportunity to change the course of service delivery through electing capable and responsible councillors. Councillors take critical decisions that have an impact on the delivery of services as water, sanitation, housing, education, health among others.
“As such, elections for councillors becomes a platform that is crucial in determining one’s access to services in the ensuing five years,” Muchadenyika said.