AN independent election watchdog has called on political parties and other stakeholders to continue pushing for reforms following the COVID-19-induced disruption to electoral processes.
BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) has suspended by-elections indefinitely as a measure to protect voters, polling officers and other electoral stakeholders from coronavirus.
Independent elections watchdog, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) in a report, however, argued that this should not be used as an excuse to abandon the need for electoral reforms.
“While the suspension of electoral activities is not unique to Zimbabwe, it has had adverse effects on programming of both the commission (Zec) and stakeholders who interface with the electoral process,” Zesn said in its report titled Monitoring Government Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
“In an effort to minimise the effects of the COVID-19 on Zesn programming, the network is re-channelling its efforts to activities that can be held on virtual platforms to revive engagement with a wide range of stakeholders on legislative, electoral and political reforms required to further strengthen the integrity of elections in Zimbabwe. Regular elections are fundamental to the proper functioning of a modern representative democracy.”
There were several recommendations to Zec from local, regional and other international election watchdogs following the disputed 2018 general elections.
The MDC Alliance disputed the Constitutional Court ruling that Zanu PF won the harmonised elections, citing electoral malpractices.
But Zec has denied charges of colluding with the ruling Zanu PF party to rig the 2018 elections.
Zesn has also called for the establishment of an electoral and political reforms taskforce bringing together political parties and other stakeholders to push for the implementation of reforms to avert disputed polls in 2023.