Zimbabwe’s August elections were held without meaningful reforms, itself a recipe for a disputed poll outcome, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) said in its 2023 harmonised election report.
Observer missions including the one from the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) flagged the polls as not credible and not meeting local, regional and international guidelines on the holding of free and fair elections.
Opposition leader, Nelson Chamisa, has rejected the election results citing rigging and intimidation of his supporters.
In its report, the Zesn flagged a number of irregularities such as failure to align the Electoral law to the constitution to guarantee a credible election.
“The Elections were held in an environment without meaningful electoral reforms. The process of alignment should also be implemented timeously to avoid implementation and operational delays,” Zesn said in its recommendations.
“Substantive changes to the legal framework should be finalised not later than 6 months before an election for them to take effect as stipulated by the law.”
Zesn emphasized the need for the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) to release the voters' roll to all stakeholders and on time.
“Zec should avail the voters roll to all stakeholders in a format that is analysable and, within reasonable time. The Commission should establish clear timelines for the production and distribution of the preliminary and final voters roll,” Zesn said.
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Zesn said voter registration must be continuous and publicised throughout the electoral cycle.
“Zec should lessen accreditation requirements for persons and organisations intending to conduct voter education. Zec should also strengthen the implementation of continuous voter education throughout the election cycle,” the report adds.
On election day management, the Zesn said: “Zec should improve on Election Day management to ensure that all polling stations are adequately staffed and have all the required resources to ensure that they are delivered smoothly. Zec should also ensure that all polling stations are opened on time.”
Zesn also called for the alignment of the Electoral Act to the Constitution to incorporate gender equality.
Zesn deployed a total of 6,500 Short-Term Observers (STOs) to observe the August election.
The observers were deployed to every constituency, ward, district and province in the country.
Zesn also partnered with the Election Resource Centre (ERC) in deploying sample-based observers to observe Election Day processes