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Fund Zec well: Zesn

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BY BLESSED MHLANGA

INDEPENDENT electoral watchdog, Zimbabwe Elections Support Network (Zesn), has called on Finance minister Mthuli Ncube to adequately fund the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) in the 2022 national budget to ensure smooth running of by-elections slated for early next year.

Last week, President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced that the by-elections would be held early next year.

These will fill over 40 parliamentary and more than 80 local government seats left vacant after the MDC Alliance representatives were recalled by the MDC-T.

In a statement yesterday, Zesn said failure to adequately fund Zec timeously was likely to compromise the quality of elections.

“We are happy that Zec is now getting funding directly from Treasury instead of through the Minister of Justice. What is of concern is that they don’t get money on time and adequately.  This has an effect of compromising the work which they do, and ultimately the whole process of running elections,” Zesn said.

Zec chairperson Justice Priscila Chigumba recently told a media workshop in Chinhoyi that the commission was not receiving funding on time to conduct voter education.

She said as a result of these funding delays, the country’s elections were being held without sufficient voter education.

“We need to get funding on time so that we educate you exactly on what Zec does during elections, as opposed to what you have heard.  The problem is we don’t get the money on time,” Justice Chigumba said.

Zesn also called on Zec to make use of civil society to bridge the funding gap on voter education ahead of elections.

“We urge the commission to take advantage of civil society. They need to approve voter education material from a number of civil society organisations because at times the funding crisis could be at national level,” Zesn said.

Voter education has been missing in the past elections, resulting in a high number of spoiled ballot papers and the turning away of voters that show up at wrong polling stations, or bring wrong identity documentation to vote.

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