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ZESN/EISA conference on regional initiatives on electoral reforms
Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN)
August 05, 2004

Victoria Falls—The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN), in conjunction with the Electoral Institute for Southern Africa (EISA), held a regional conference on regional initiatives for electoral reforms in SADC.

The conference was attended by the Speaker of the Parliament of Zimbabwe, Honourable Emmerson D Mnangagwa, the Speaker of the Lesotho National Assembly and Chairperson of the SADC Parliamentary Forum, Honourable Nthloi Motsamai, Vice President of the Senate of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Honourable Gaetan Kakudji, the Secretary for Information and Publicity in the ZANU PF, Dr Nathan Shamuyarira, the Secretary General for the MDC, Professor Welshman Ncube, Honourable Members of Parliament from the Region and from Zimbabwe, Members of Electoral Commissions in the Region and Zimbabwe, Representatives of Zimbabwean Political Parties, Members of the Diplomatic Corps, Members of the Donor Community, Representatives of the African Union, Representatives of the SADC Parliamentary Forum , the Clerk of the Zimbabwean Parliament –Mr Austin Zvoma, Members of International, Regional and Local NGOs and various interested stakeholders.

The conference sought to discuss and come up with consensus on issues around electoral reform initiatives in the SADC region and how they can be carried out using pre-existing benchmarks so that we can move in the same direction as a region.

WHEREAS Africa in general and SADC in particular is making significant strides in democratising its election systems.

FURTHER NOTING, that Africa in general and the SADC region in particular needs home grown electoral systems that are reflective of our socio-cultural historical experience.

PARTICIPANTS to the regional initiatives conference on electoral reforms in SADC held at Elephant Hills Hotel in Victoria Falls from the 2nd –3rd of August 2004 resolved that:

1. Electoral reforms need to be in line with the existing benchmarks in particular the SADC proposals.

2. Election observation is crucial as it places a seal of approval to the electoral systems and processes, therefore African countries should agree on common principles that form the basis for observation and should be on the forefront of observing their own elections.

3. Electoral reforms, standards and norms as recommended by the Principles for Election Management, Monitoring and Observation (PEMMO) and the SADC PF norms and standards on elections, should not be seen as duplicate but as complimentary.

4. Disputes arising out of the electoral process should be addressed by a jurisdiction out of the normal court system for expeditious and efficient resolutions.

5. The SADC PF norms and standards, PEMMO and the AU guidelines on elections and principles should be embraced by all member states with mechanisms put in place to test national laws for adherence and compliance to these norms and standards.

6. The appointment of Electoral Management Bodies (EMBs) must demonstrate a palpable tendency towards their independence with the whole process being carried out transparently and in public.

7. To ensure gender, mainstreaming in the electoral systems

8. An election is a process and not an event and as such all laws should allow conditions for a free and fair election

9. In addition to electoral reforms, there is need to have political will from governments, trust, reliability, credibility, transparency and honesty in the Electoral Management Bodies (EMBs) and processes in place.

10. Election observation should not be confined to voting days only but to a period, which allows for the observation of the campaign period and internal democracy to be enhanced and observed.

11. There is need to continue lobbying the regional and local level for electoral reforms, in particular, lobbying the upcoming SADC meeting to be held in Mauritius on the proposed SADC principles, norms and standards on elections.

12. EISA to explore mechanisms at regional level to engage SADC leaders through the organ on Politics Defence and Security.

13. ZESN to continue what they have started to make sure that recommendations made can be taken on board in the electoral reform processes.

14. State resources, including the state media, must be equally accessible to all political parties.

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