THE Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) has been tracking progress made by government in the implementation of electoral reforms premised on recommendations proffered by local, regional and international election observer missions to the 2018 harmonised elections.
Notably, Parliament passed and the President assented to the Constitutional Amendment Number 2 Act, which extended the women’s quota in the National Assembly for another 10 years, introduced a 30% women’s quota in local government, and provided for a quota for 10 youths in the National Assembly on a party-list basis and five female youths within the current women’s quota.
While Constitutional Amendment Number 2 Act extended the women’s quota for another 10 years, introduced a 30% women’s quota in local government, Zesn is of the view that notably, this amounts to a change.
However, it is unlikely that gender parity will be attained in the 2023 elections based on this electoral framework.
Concerning youth participation, the amendment now provides for a youth quota system.
While the constitutional change guarantees some youthful representatives in the National Assembly, it appears that the number of representatives provided for in the amendment was not informed by a scientific approach or meaningful consultations with the affected youth.
The quota is at odds with population demographics and official voter registration and participation statistics.
Further, whereas the amendment mentioned people with disabilities (PwDs), it was short on details for implementation.
The Zimbabwe Gender Commission adopted a Gender and Inclusion Policy, while it is a positive development, it cannot be enforced as law.
In the absence of a clearer and more effective legal framework on the inclusion of women, young persons and PwDs it seems that these changes will remain as symbols of tokenism that will not address the values of the 2013 Constitution on these matters.
In addition, some of the critical reforms that have not been addressed include strengthening the independence of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec), reviewing legal provisions around voter registration and the voters’ roll; voter education and election observation; tightening the provisions on results management to enhance transparency, reduce suspicion and results contestation; streamlining election dispute mechanisms, domesticating the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance; enhancing electoral administration through clearer legal provisions and electoral practice; reviewing provisions on political party registration and regulation; establishing a clear legal provision around the delimitation of electoral boundaries; implementing the provisions under section 287 of the Constitution on integrity and ethics on the role of traditional leaders in elections; the right to vote and the inclusion of women, young persons and persons with disability in electoral and governance processes as well as in political representation; evening the electoral playing field and improving the political environment among other administrative electoral reforms which do not require any amendments to electoral laws.
Media law and policy reforms remain in limbo despite the regulatory powers conferred on Zec concerning the media during election periods.
There have not been any changes to the Zec media monitoring legal framework informed by experiences of previous elections.
Zesn has noted the issuance of new radio and television broadcasting licences which have resulted in a plurality of players, of concerns are sentiments from key electoral stakeholders that the stations remain appendages of the State and the country risks having a perpetuation of biased media coverage of elections, which is an anathema to democracy.
Zesn calls upon government to move with speed in the implementation of the electoral reforms, as most have not been attended to at a time when Zimbabwe is barely two years away from yet another set of harmonised elections in 2023.
If addressed early, the reforms will contribute to a credible electoral process. Rushing electoral law changes on the eve of elections, as has been the case in the past, is not in the best interest of democracy.
Zesn will continue to monitor and track the implementation of electoral reforms as part of its efforts in promoting and strengthening democratic electoral processes in Zimbabwe. –Zesn
Oil exploration companies fuelling conflicts in Muzarabani North
COMMUNITY members who are part of Heal Zimbabwe’s community peace clubs (CPCs) have noted that companies that are exploring for oil and gas are fuelling conflicts in Muzarabani North.
This came our during a CPC reflection meeting conducted by communities working with Heal Zimbabwe in Muzarabani North on September 27, 2021.
Participants noted that since reports of discovery of oil and gas in the area, the community has witnessed increased tensions and conflicts.
A case in point is that of village head one Muchedzi, who was deposed by Zanu PF activists after he engaged the companies and highlighted that there was need for them to also consult community members before any displacements.
”If you try to highlight that these companies must engage us first, you are labelled anti-development and a sellout. The case of village head Muchedzi serves to highlight the consequences of speaking out against injustice,” one participant said.
The meeting also noted that in some instances, these mining companies have created gravel roads where there are graves and this has angered community members.
Other issues that came out at the meeting include the politicisation of employment opportunities by Zanu PF vice-chairperson, Denshot Mazarura and ward 6 councillor, Norman Chizeya.
These two handpick individuals for employment at the oil companies on the basis of political affiliation.
As part of resolutions, the CPCs resolved to continue documenting and reporting cases of human rights violations to the responsible institutions and also continue mediating conflicts in a bid to build social cohesion in local communities.
The meetings by Heal Zimbabwe are part of efforts to empower local communities to help guard against human rights abuses and also build peaceful communities.
Heal Zimbabwe utilises various strategies to address conflicts in local communities.
One of these ways is the use of community dialogues, an initiative for communities to discuss and collectively identify ways through which they can proffer solutions to problems in their communities.
The platforms also equip communities with relevant information on COVID-19, gender-based violence and human rights.
Such platforms also facilitate local level conversations on issues affecting communities as well as create socially cohesive communities. –Heal Zimbabwe Trust
New portal expected to drive SDGs in Africa
SEVENTEEN UN entities under the Africa Collaborative Regional Platform have launched an online data portal, the first of its kind on the continent, to measure and evaluate progress on the sustainable development goals (SDGs).
The platform will serve as a one-stop-shop repository that captures data and evidence on the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs from all the African countries and will raise the profile of statistical progress towards the African Union vision, Agenda 2063.
The Africa Collaborative Regional Platform breaks the 17 SDGs into 169 targets and 231 indicators, allowing interested parties to track progress at every level.
With barely nine years left to achieve the SDGs, making use of common and harmonised data is essential to accelerate progress.
The launch of this new platform marks a milestone in action towards the Agenda 2030 and the African Union 2063 Agenda.
Reliable and collective data will allow all actors to make the best possible evidence-based policy action to accelerate the SDGs, strengthen collaboration, avoid unnecessary duplication and make sure that we can address gaps, really leaving no one behind.
According to statisticians at the UN Economic Commission for Africa, among the 169 targets set out in the SDGs, only 30% of them are quantifiable.
For the rest of the unquantifiable targets, the online platform goes ahead to propose target values by using a pragmatic and ambitious approach. It identifies the region’s outstanding countries and sets their average rate of change as the region’s target rate.
Presenting comprehensive, practical data sets will especially help government, civil servants to monitor progress, make sound decisions, and evaluate outcomes and impacts.
This data platform is a long-awaited online tool to carry out in-depth analyses and progress assessments at the target and indicator levels, and link them with national development plans.
The new data engine also gives users the ability to classify the statistics by various dimensions, such as the eight regional economic communities recognised by the African Union, least developed countries, landlocked developing nations, and oil-producing, mineral-rich States. Additionally, it repackages the data by key thematic issues.
Users can categorise SDG indicators by agriculture, energy and health, allowing them to not only analyse the specific progress at the country level but also examine the convergence, similarities and differences among a variety of sub-regional blocs and topics.
Timely and disaggregated data is critical to guide targeted investments and ensure the desired returns in its human capital development, environmental sustainability, economic transformation, and prosperity for all.
The data portal is expected to be used in progress reports on the SDGs and other sustainable development documents and can also be used to prepare speeches and presentations for senior leadership of governments and institutions as well as to stimulate policy conversations. –Afrikan