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Comment on election roadmap timelines
Election Support Network
July 12, 2011
is a response to the timelines set and agreed by the three political
parties in GNU
for Zimbabwe's electoral roadmap as reported in the Herald
of 7 July, 2011. First and foremost, the Zimbabwe Election Support
Network (ZESN) notes with concern the continued disregard of the
voice of the people of Zimbabwe as witnessed by the lack of commitment
to consult the people in the whole negotiation process.
ZESN is of the
view that the timelines that have been set are unrealistic and fail
to address a number of pertinent concerns that are essential before
the country can hold a new election.
that the 30 days given for voter education and mobilization for
voter registration are insufficient as the successful completion
of the processes is likely to exceed the set timeline given the
many dimensions the processes demand.
ZESN is also
concerned with the 60 day timeline given for voter registration
and preparation for a new voters' roll and reckon that the
timeline must be increased taking into account the number of existing
registered voters in excess of 5 million and those of first time
voters that would need to be captured. This is compounded by the
Amendments Bill which seeks set up a polling station based voters'
roll. The proposed system would necessitate the 're-registration'
of all existing voters and allocation to specific polling stations.
The time allocated for this process should be cognizant of this,
to ensure no eligible voters are excluded. The time and resources
required for voters to register also needs to be considered so that
the process is not too onerous as to discourage citizens from participating.
It is depressing
to note that the parties failed to agree on essential reforms that
we believe are fundamental to creating an environment suitable for
credible, free and fair elections in Zimbabwe in particular the
need for enhancing the independence and resourcing of the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission (ZEC).
ZESN also reiterates
the need for security sector reforms as a critical element in paving
the way for violence -free election. ZESN is concerned with the
fact that security sector reforms remain unresolved yet this is
a critical issue on how the elections will be conducted as this
will influence its outcome. The early deployment of observers is
also essential as it enables them ample time to assess the situation
prevailing in the country. ZESN maintains that an innovative combination
of election observation methods should be used to ensure scrutiny
of the pre-electoral environment by regional and international observers
at least three months before and one month after the election as
a deterrent to politically motivated or electoral violence. ZESN
reiterates the need for legal reforms to ensure that repressive
legislation is repealed or amended before the next election. The
rejection to amend the Public
Order and Security Act is unwelcome especially at a time when
there is need to allow more freedoms in regards to public gatherings.
the basis and interest of the negotiating political parties are
unclear as they seem to have disregarded the ongoing constitution
reform process which inevitably will bring a number of changes in
the electoral process.
proposes the following as an alternative to tackling the issue of
timeframes in the implementation matrix for the negotiators:
- Timely gazetting
of polling stations.
- The determination
of a mechanism for the type of voters' roll and registration
methodology to be used and how this will relate to the proposed
polling station based system.
- A clear
agreed framework and timeframe for registration of both old and
new voters and clean-up of the roll.
- The delimitation
of constituencies based on outcome of the new constitution and
based on accurate voter registration information as well as the
finalization of the voters' roll.
- Voter education
and mobilization needs to be a continuous part of the entire process.
constitutionally stipulated election period to avoid uncertainty
on election dates.
that the roadmap needs to create an enabling environment for free
and fair elections. Setting unrealistic timelines will likely result
in another disputed election. The constitution reform process needs
to be completed first. The roadmap should promote transparency in
all electoral processes and critically deal with issues that have
hindered credible elections in the past. SADC needs to take an active
role and urge the political parties to commit to the letter and
spirit of the roadmap once it has been signed. ZESN emphasises on
the need to instill confidence in the electorate and the creation
of enabling environment for the holding of credible elections that
reflect the will of the people of Zimbabwe.
Visit the ZESN
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