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closing statement at its Annual General Meeting
Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN)
July 23, 2005
Election Support Network held its Annual General Meeting on the
23rd of July 2005 at the Wild Geese Lodge in Harare.
The meeting deliberated on a number of issues pertaining to the
network and the nation as a whole and came up with several resolutions
with the major one being to continue lobbying for the establishment
of a truly independent electoral management body.
the wanton destruction of homes under the name of ‘Operation Restore
Order’ or Murambatsvina, ZESN notes with concern the effects of
this operation on the electorate in particular and democracy in
has not only caused untold suffering to the majority of the urban
poor by making them destitute but has also inevitably resulted in
the forcible displacement of most of them. This means that although
these displaced people remain on the voters’ roll they are unable
to exercise their right to vote since they are no longer resident
in the constituencies in which they are registered as voters.
of the urban dwellings has left some members of parliament in an
untenable position whereby they have been left with a few people
to represent in parliament as significant portions of their constituencies
have been destroyed.
has gazetted proposed constitutional amendments through which it
seeks to re –establish senate. Owing to the large number of people
that has been displaced during the operation, it is evident that
for any reasonably free and fair elections to take place in Zimbabwe
it will be necessary to undertake a comprehensive voters’ roll audit
and a transparent voter registration exercise that will result in
the creation of a credible voters’ roll.
ZESN is perturbed
that the government has adopted a unilateral approach towards this
very important national issue and has not bothered to consult the
various stakeholders, especially the electorate, before gazetting
the proposed amendments nor has it attempted to advise the people
of the advantages or otherwise of adopting a bicameral legislative
ZESN believes that the continued holding of elections under the
prevailing economic conditions is not in the interests of democracy.
The current fuel and economic crises make preparations for elections
costly and the movement of voters difficult. ZESN wonders whether
the country’s ailing economy can sustain an election of such magnitude
after another election, especially when considering the immense
costs involved in the conducting of elections. ZESN therefore proposes
that the senate be established by proportional representation using
the March 2005 election results.
ZESN is disturbed
by the government’s intension to appoint sixteen of the proposed
sixty six senators. It is noteworthy that the appointment of thirty
non – constituency members of parliament is already a contentious
matter and ZESN believes that the appointment of the un elected
senators will not only be a cause for public outcry but is also
undemocratic and not in the spirit of the SADC Principles and Guidelines
on democratic elections.
ZESN notes that
none of the thirteen challenges to the results of the March 2005
elections have yet been resolved in court. It is ZESN’s opinion
that continuing to hold elections in this background will greatly
contribute to voter apathy and further polarise the country.
In view of the
challenges and disputes that have characterised previous elections
ZESN believes that the country’s elections will continue to be riddled
by controversy unless a truly independent election management body
that runs and manages elections in a transparent manner is set up.
ZESN also reiterates
its call for the abolition of the Electoral Supervisory Commission
(ESC) and for the establishment of a single, truly independent election
management body. It is such a body that should be responsible for
the new voter registration exercise that ZESN has been and is still
also calls for the immediate cessation of the persecution and segregation
of those patriotic Zimbabweans who served as its observers in the
March general elections. It also recommends that all the stakeholders
to the Zimbabwean crisis should engage each other in dialogue in
order to find an amicable resolution and avert an economic and political
the responsible authorities to open up both the electronic and print
media in order to afford political competitors an opportunity to
air their views to their supporters. Not only will such a move go
a long way towards levelling the electoral playing field but it
will also open the way for divergent views thereby giving the voters
an opportunity to make an informed choice.
application of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy
Act (AIPPA) has made it difficult for other players to enter the
media field. Certain sections of the Public Order and Security Act
(POSA) also restrict basic freedoms therefore ZESN reiterates its
call for a comprehensive constitutional review process in order
to create an environment conducive for the holding of democratic
It is with this
in mind that ZESN calls on the government to take urgent measures
to rectify the situation if the Bulawayo Mayoral elections and other
impending local government elections are to be held in line with
SADC Principles and Guidelines on Democratic Elections.
Visit the ZESN
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