BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
INDEPENDENT electoral watchdog, Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) has called for the speedy alignment of electoral laws with the Constitution to promote and enhance democracy and transparency in the country’s electoral systems.
In a statement to mark the International Day of Democracy yesterday which ran under the theme Participation, Zesn called on government to align the Electoral Act with the Constitution to, among other things, accommodate the diaspora vote and speed up resolution of electoral disputes.
“The network has also petitioned Parliament on electoral reforms as part of efforts to lobby government to promote and enhance democracy, transparency, and an effective democratic electoral system by addressing gaps in the legal framework of elections. The gaps include non-alignment of the Electoral Act with the Constitution with only amendments that have been piece-meal, diaspora voting; legal provisions in relation to political parties’ regulation and funding; electoral dispute resolution and mechanisms; political environment reforms; and the independence of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec), among others,” the statement read.
Zesn further noted that with the 2023 elections looming, it was time for multi-stakeholder co-operation in promoting inclusion, equal treatment and participation in democratic governance issues by citizens to ensure sustainable peace and development.
“This day presents Zesn with the opportunity to reiterate its calls for measures to ensure inclusive participation in elections, especially of women, people with disabilities and youths in Zimbabwe. Despite the fact that women constitute the demographic majority, and youths account for the largest voting population, their participation, especially as candidates, in elections has been very low. This has resulted in the limited representation and participation of these important constituencies in the governance of the country,” the statement further read.
In a statement, United Nations secretary-general António Guterres also called for inclusion in the democratic process of all member States.
Guterres said democracy was about the people and urged governments to respect citizens’ right to “meaningful participation” in political processes.
“Democracy is built on inclusion, equal treatment and participation. It is a fundamental building block for peace, sustainable development and human rights.
The International Day of Democracy takes place at a time when trust is low and anxiety is high,” Guterres said.
“People are frustrated by growing inequalities and unsettled by sweeping changes from globalisation and technology,” he said.
The UN chief blamed ongoing global conflicts on unresolved disputes, injustices and the shrinking democratic space.
The International Day of Democracy is observed on September 15 to promote and uphold the tenets of democracy.