Zec must penalise vote buying, violence inciting candidates: ERC

THE Elections Resource Centre (ERC) yesterday said the country’s electoral laws still required to be tightened up and include provision for disqualification of candidates accused of inciting violence.

by VENERANDA LANGA

ERC executive director Tawanda Chimhini told NewsDay that it was still possible for the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) to use the Constitution to impose penalties for candidates that engage in vote buying, violence and other unorthodox means to win elections.

His statement comes in the wake of increased cases of inter and intra-party violence mostly targeting female candidates ahead of next month’s polls.

“We have provisions in the law but they are weak, and that is why it was imperative to have comprehensive alignments of the Electoral Act to the constitution,” Chimhini said.

“At the present moment it seems there are no consequences attached to candidates that perpetrate political violence, yet we need to put punitive measures that can be enforced to curb violence and vote buying.”.

He said even if the Electoral law was amended in Parliament without including the desired changes by other political parties involved in the elections, Zec can still implement what is outlined in the Constitution to ensure that elections are free and fair.

“Zec can easily use the Constitution to come up with the necessary remedies needed to limit the things that compromise on free and fair elections. In fact, since there are already some candidates that have reported cases of political violence, Zec has the power to stop the election until such time when the process is free and fair,” Chimhini said.

He said since Parliament missed an opportunity to fix the Electoral Act, Zec could still come up with administrative measures to ensure that the elections are free and fair.

“If Zec does not do something about those issues, then the credibility of elections will be challenged,” Chimhini said.

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