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Electoral Amendment Bill - ZESN public meeting
Zimbabwe Election Support Network
September 01, 2011

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network yesterday, 30 August held a public meeting at the New Ambassador Hotel in Harare from 5pm to 7pm. The meeting critically analyzed the contents of the Bill.

Mr. Charles Mangongera moderated the meeting with Hon. Douglas Mwonzora (MDC-T) and Mr. Gideon Mandaza (MDC), a ZESN representative being the panelists. Other invited speakers such as the Zanu Pf representative could not make it due to other commitments. The meeting was well attended by over 100 members of the public, CSO representatives and political party activists. A number of pertinent issues were raised during the lively discussions. Below are some of the issues an d concerns raised during the meeting:

Highlights of Issues raised;

Independence of ZEC

There was a call to enhance the independence of ZEC. MDC T representative emphasized that the Commission is a critical institution in ensuring the realisation of free and fair elections in Zimbabwe. He concurred with the ZESN presentation which had recommended that ZEC draw its financial resources from the Consolidated Revenue Fund and that it must be in control of its own budget as well as report to parliament.

Voters' roll

The issue of the voter's roll was raised and questions were asked as to the state of the current voters' roll and the impact it will have in the next election. The need to have the voters' roll cleaned up was emphasized as vital before fresh polls are held.

In additions there were also concerns on the security of the voter regarding the polling station based voters' roll given the political dimensions of the country were violence is still rife in some areas and political tolerance is almost non-existent. It was also noted that the polling station based voters' roll would be ideal in peaceful environments and that given the current situation in Zimbabwe it would cause problems.

Security of the vote

The security of the vote also generated some discussion with participants and presenters alike highlighting that undue delay in announcing election results leads to speculation and the likelihood of election rigging. There was a call for swift announcement of the results to avoid speculation and to increase the credibility of the electoral process. It was also highlighted that provisions relating to announcement of results should encompass all elections, not only Presidential elections as cast in the Bill.

Special voting

It was noted that the issue of special voting while welcome, remains opaque and requires sufficient mechanisms to ensure the ability of security forces to vote freely, removing the potential of any undue influence from high ranking officers on polling day.

Right to vote

Calls continued to be made for the inclusion of citizens in the Diaspora as they are an integral cog in the country's socio-economic wheel.

Security sector reform

The issue of security sector reform which has caused a lot of debate in recent times generated a lot of debate as well. Participants called for the removal of bias and partisanship in the country's security sector while also calling for measures to ensure that those in the force must abide by their roles and not be allowed to utter political statements that may cause harm to other political parties and their supporters.

The meeting oversaw a healthy exchange of ideas and thoughts on the Electoral Amendment Bill. ZESN was also encouraged by the overwhelming attendance and looks forward to continuing the Electoral Amendment Bill debate to all provinces in Zimbabwe.

Visit the ZESN fact sheet

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