By NQOBANI NDLOVU
ZIMBABWE needs strong electoral justice and other responsive institutions to safeguard the people’s vote, election experts said citing recent American elections where President Donald Trump was disputing election results.
Trump has been at pains to explain that the elections were rigged despite that country’s institutions pointing to a Joe Biden victory.
In a virtual public meeting held under the theme Lessons from the American Presidential Elections 2020; The Good, the Bad and the Ugly last week election experts emphasised the need for strong electoral and judicial systems and other relevant institutions to safeguard the people’s vote.
A team of renowned experts on democracy made up the panel, which consisted of Chris Fomunyoh, the National Democratic Institute (NDI) senior Africa associate and regional director for central and west Africa, professor O’ Brien Kaaba, a lecturer in law at the University of Zambia and Senior Research Fellow at the SAIPAR, Anne Kathurima, an elections, democracy and governance practitioner and Jack Zaba, a programmes officer with International Republic Institute Zimbabwe.
“Other positive lessons from the American polls were that the electoral justice system performance was good and the elections were held with integrity.
“Despite attempts by some candidates to compromise the Judiciary, the institution was not shaken and made decisions based purely on the law,” highlights of the virtual meeting read in part.
The virtual meeting was organised by Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) in collaboration with the Election Resource Centre (ERC) and the Electoral Support Network of Southern Africa (ESN-SA).
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“They (panel) recommended the need for strong, responsive institutions that safeguard democracy. The need to accept and concede defeat in all electoral races was highlighted…”
In Zimbabwe’s past pre-election period, some senior army officials made disparaging remarks warning against an opposition party victory.
“Another lesson to be learnt from the American elections is the merits of a decentralised and diffuse electoral system that has no central organ that can undermine the whole system.
“This is strength because no bad apples can deliberately contaminate the entire system. Panellists bemoaned most electoral systems, particularly in Africa that are too centralised, having the risk of being manipulated from the centre,” the panel added.
Zimbabwe by-elections remain suspended by Vice-President and Health minister Constantino Chiwenga citing COVD-19 health scare. However, analysts argue this is an attack on democracy.
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