THE Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) in collaboration with the Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust and the Parliament of Zimbabwe hosted a conference in Kariba recently to discuss the civil society organisations (CSOs) Comprehensive Draft Electoral Amendment Bill.
The objective of the conference was to go through the Bill to ensure the finalisation of discussions and input from relevant stakeholders.
The conference was convened in accordance with the constitutional dictates that Parliament is there to make laws.
The conference was held to marry our electoral law with the constitutional values and democratic principles provided for in section 3(2) as read together with sections 155, 156 and 157 of the Constitution.
Speaker of the National Assembly, Jacob Mudenda highlighted the need to come up with a robust electoral law, whose legal vigour and vitality should stand the test of time in ensuring that Zimbabwean elections, at any given time, are peaceful, free, fair and credible.
Electoral laws should respect gender equality, inclusion and all other rights as elections are also a human rights issue as well as have the integrity of its purpose and intent.
The registration of political parties, adherence to code of conduct, protection of the secrecy of the ballot and provisions on assisted voters, stipulating timelines for adjudication electoral disputes and conformity with constitutional provisions as well as regional standards, provisions for postal, special and external voting, provisions for mechanisms for filling of vacancies, among others, were deliberated on at the conference.
There is need to entrench gender equality safeguards in the Bill to enhance women participation in all electoral processes.
There was unison with respect to ensure that the Bill does enhance the transparency of Zimbabwe’s electoral processes through consultation with stakeholders such as political parties and voters.
A few changes in the Bill were put forward in order to enhance transparency of the electoral processes.
Stakeholders also came to an agreement on shortening procedural timelines to ensure that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and other stakeholders have enough time, while also ensuring that the timelines do not prejudice the outcomes or public perceptions.
On the way forward, Mudenda, commended Zesn and other CSOs for demonstrating an instructive example that one needs not criticise without offering or presenting an alternative.
He further stated that Parliament takes CSOs and public petitions seriously.
Mudenda reinforced the importance of independent commissions (Chapter 12 institutions) in providing checks and balances in the governance matrix.-Zimbabwe Election Support Network
Zim can’t afford another disputed polls
CIVIC society organisations are absolutely right to insist that there should be no elections without tangible electoral reforms.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s policy stance to date suggests he is not interested in reforming the electoral ground.
However, as Head of State, Mnangagwa should add, at least, one of his own to advance good governance at party level.
Like his party’s parliamentary candidates, all presidential candidates on party tickets must be the product of open, credible, peaceful, free and fair primary
The key word here is open. There should be no unnecessary vetting of candidates before the primaries, except the payment of a small non-refundable fee.
The open primaries are to prevent institutional capture by wicked men and evil spirits, of the political parties.
As the President has said, let the people speak! Their voice is the voice of God.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission should be mandated to hold these primary elections in a single day, as the commission rehearses the holding of the general polls.
There is no need to have elections if there are no meaningful reforms.
Zimbabwe cannot afford another disputed election in 2023.-Mukunda Chitova
Youth, women participation in politics hallmark of good governance
YOUTH and women participation in electoral and governance processes can go a long way in ensuring inclusivity, co-existence, maintenance and preservation of peace.
Across the globe, conflicts have erupted, especially when certain sections of society feel neglected as far as development, resource allocation and general participation on matters of development are concerned.
Youths and women are undoubtedly two formidable demographic groups that, if neglected, particularly on issues of governance, can pose a threat to the development of any nation.
The political and social terrain of any country’s backbone is mostly supported by the youth and women, who comprise the bulk of the world’s population.
The youth are traditionally active politically, but excluded from policy development.
Zimbabwe is heading towards the 2023 elections and youth and women participation must be prioritised.
Education that is linked to the whole economic circle needs to be prioritised in order to attract a number of young people to the electoral field, thus youths and women need to be recruited as electoral educators to educate their peers.
However, there have been no messages created and circulated by youths and women to motivate each other to register to vote during the just-ended voter registration blitz.
Usually, messages were created by older people or project personnel without the understanding of key needs of youths and women and not translating well or appealing to their needs and language.
The road to the 2023 elections has witnessed a lot of interest by young people and women to participate in the electoral process, not only as supporters or voters, but contestants.
The rise of youth and women organisations and social movements over the past few years has seen an interesting phenomenon in Zimbabwean politics, which was largely dominated by old and tired politicians, whose tactics have contributed to the current economic shambles.
Peace-building is realistic if youths and women are given a chance to participate in political processes. The young people are regarded as the leaders of tomorrow and they also need to be considered in elections and peace-building.-Musha Mukadzi