CSOs call for reforms on Independence Day

Zimbabwe has a history of disputed elections since the emergence of a major opposition political party after the 1987 Unity Accord.

CIVIL society organisations (CSOs) have called on government to enact crucial reforms essential for transparent and credible elections as the country celebrated 44 years of independence yesterday.

Zimbabwe has a history of disputed elections since the emergence of a major opposition political party after the 1987 Unity Accord.

Several organisations yesterday called on the government and political parties to establish an environment conducive to upholding the basic tenets of democracy.

In a statement yesterday, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network  (Zesn) called on the government and all electoral stakeholders to reconsider proposals it submitted and those made by other CSOs.

“This call comes against the backdrop of the 2023 harmonised elections, which were conducted without significant electoral reforms.

“Although in 2022, the Zimbabwean government made amendments to the Electoral Act through the Electoral Amendment Bill, such as removing the driver’s licence as proof of identity, Zesn believes these changes primarily entailed nominal and administrative reforms, overlooking crucial reforms essential for transparent and credible elections.

Substantive electoral reforms, which stakeholders had been advocating for, were omitted from the amendments to the Electoral Act.”

The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition accused political leaders of straying from the values of the liberation struggle, leaving Zimbabweans with little to celebrate and a lot to fight for.

“It is disheartening to note that 44 years after independence, Zimbabwe has had a series of elections with disputed outcomes mainly due to the failure to conform to local, regional and international guidelines on democratic elections,” the watchdog said.

In its commemorative statement the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association implored the government to uphold and defend the integrity of the Constitution and respect the political rights of all Zimbabweans.

“It is not a secret how Zimbabwe has been struggling with a tattered human rights record since 1980 and how the current socio-economic impasse is an unfortunate result of that.

“The ordinary Zimbabwean aspires to enjoy the fruit of peace, unity and development but this can only be achieved after we address the elephant in the room.

“Political polarisation, violence, intimidation, arbitrary arrests, corruption, unresolved conflicts and other violations to human dignity, have rendered true unity, peace and development a mirage that can only be chased but never attained.”

The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) urged the judicial system, civic society groups and the media to unite in a bid to strengthen electoral laws and to inculcate a culture of respect for human rights during and after the independence celebrations.

“The ZHRC pledges to continue its mandate to uphold and build a more just and inclusive society. The commission urges the Parliament of Zimbabwe, civic society groups, and the media to continue working together in strengthening electoral laws and in inculcating a culture of human rights respect, and political tolerance, as these are defining tenets of a mature democracy,” the statement read.

Related Topics