Zec urged to prioritise voter education

BY RUTENDO MATANHIKE

The Electoral Resource Centre (ERC) has urged the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) to give preference to voter education to improve future election processes.

Speaking to NewsDay on the sidelines of the launch of the fifth edition of electoral reform barometer (ERB) yesterday, ERC director Tawanda Chimhini said voter education should be a continuous process.

“We (ERC) are insisting that there are priorities which have got to be identified to improve future election processes, so that we can concretely say that Zimbabwe is on a path towards reform that makes sense to the ordinary citizen,” he said.

Chimhini said ensuring citizens have information was key in future elections.

“Ensuring that voter education is extended on a continuous basis is, therefore, going to be crucial with voter education that is qualitative and that has considered the secrecy of the ballot that dispels information, will be a huge addition to removing Zimbabwe from a position where voter education has been passive,” he said.

The ERB is a tool used to track electoral reforms performance. It also acts as a reminder to election stakeholders that Zimbabwe has constitutional, regional and international obligations relating to the conduct of elections.

Chimhini added that it was important for Zec to start strategising voter education to build public confidence in the election process as voters progressively lose confidence in elections.

“So our requirement is that the election commission considers how they can strengthen their voter education strategy to build public confidence in the election and that the commission is an independent body. What we are seeing is that voters have lost interest in the election system and this is largely because of the bad publicity around elections which has given the impression that elections mean nothing,” he said.

The ERC director said Zec should be ready to explain rather than defend itself on the credibility of the election.

“Whenever credibility of an election is challenged, we do not want a situation whereby the election commission constantly defends itself. We want to see an election commission that fully explains itself with the purpose of building and developing the election process. We are looking forward to the commission working on strengthening credibility of elections,” Chimhini said.

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