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Harmonisation of elections 2008/2010? ZESN position
Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN)
January 16, 2007

The harmonisation of elections in Zimbabwe has been proposed by the ruling ZANU PF party and discussed at its National Conference held in December 2006. This has sparked substantial debate in the country to which the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) would like to add its voice.

It is important firstly to distinguish between the harmonisation of elections and the 'extension' of the presidential term. The harmonisation of elections is a noble idea. ZESN appreciates fully that the costs of running a national election are significant. However, the process of harmonisation needs to be undertaken in a manner, which exacts the least cost on democracy.

ZESN proposes a comprehensive approach to harmonisation, which should encompass all Presidential, House of Assembly and Senatorial Elections. It would also be ideal to merge the Urban Council with the Rural District Council Elections. The Network further proposes that Provincial Governors be directly elected by the people they serve as opposed to the current system of appointment. Elections for this purpose should then be merged with the local authority elections.

The harmonisation process further needs to be accompanied by reforms such as:

  • Constitutional reform, particularly the comprehensive protection of civil and political rights;
  • Changes to the electoral system from the current first past the post to a more proportional system of representation;
  • A voter registration exercise resulting in a new voters' roll; and
  • Rational delimitation of boundaries (both constituency and ward).

Further, it would be essential to undertake extensive voter education in order to inform the electorate of the modalities of the changes that finally occur.

Periodic elections through which citizens participate to authorise politicians to act on their behalf are an essential tenet of democracy. ZESN is therefore of the view that the Presidential election due in 2008 must go ahead in order to seek a fresh mandate from the people, who should determine the socio-economic and political path of the nation.

The Network is of the view that under a working democracy there is no way a nation can extend the term of its leader without widely consulting the people and giving them an opportunity to decide through a referendum. A Parliament such as our House of Assembly or Senate with a substantial number of appointed representatives, while the contested results of some seats remain pending before the courts since 2005 cannot, in all conscience, be allowed to use a technical two-thirds majority to extend the current presidential term.

ZESN, therefore calls for the presidential election to be held in 2008 as in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution. The Network reiterates that all decisions pertaining to the timeframe for harmonisation or alteration of the presidential or parliamentary tenure must be left to the people of Zimbabwe.

Visit the ZESN fact sheet

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