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Comment on the referendum date and departure of the ZEC Chairperson
Election Support Network
February 15, 2013
Election Support Network (ZESN) notes
that the referendum date has been penciled for 16 March 2013, a
date which is literally in four weeks' time. This raises serious
concerns about citizens having a meaningful opportunity to learn
about the draft
constitution and to make an informed choice. The date also raises
questions about the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) having sufficient
time to organize a credible referendum
consistent with laws of Zimbabwe as well as Southern African
Development Community (SADC) and international principles and guidelines
governing the conduct of democratic elections. The political decision
to hold the referendum undermines the ability of the ZEC to enhance
its capacity to conduct the election or strengthen its credibility
with stakeholders and this might be a missed opportunity.
is concerned that the referendum date was set before the draft was
published in the government Gazette. In addition, citizens are yet
to examine and study the draft as copies have not yet been availed
to the public and plans for civic education by COPAC have not yet
been implemented. ZESN also realizes that the proposed date will
have the potential to disturb the already shortened school calendar
given that most of the polling stations are normally located in
schools and most teachers also serve as polling officials.
ZESN notes that the announcement of the referendum date comes just
24 hours after the departure of the Chairperson of the ZEC Justice
Simpson Mutambanengwe. In the past few years ZEC under the leadership
of Justice Mutambanengwe has made strides in engaging stakeholders
in a number of activities such as consultative meetings to strengthen
synergies and relations. It is however sad to note that the time
and energy that the institute and the government have invested in
the Chairperson has been wasted particularly given that the resignation
comes in an election year.
We urge that
a new ZEC Chairperson be identified and approved expeditiously.
According to the Electoral
Amendment Act, 2012, Section 100B (1)(a) a chairperson is appointed
by the President in consultation with the Judicial Service Commission
and the Parliamentary Committee on Standing Rules and Orders. Further,
subsection (2) stipulates that "The chairperson of the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission must be a judge or former judge of the Supreme
Court or the High Court, or a person qualified for appointment as
such a judge." ZESN hopes that this process results in the
speedy appointment of a credible chair to steer the Commission.
remains dedicated to the promotion of democratic elections in Zimbabwe.
As such despite serious reservations ZESN will continue to watch
the unfolding of the political developments in the country and provide
independent non-partisan information on the electoral processes
to the public, civil society, policy makers, political parties and
electoral authorities. ZESN reiterates that Zimbabwe cannot afford
to have anything but credible and legitimate elections as it transits
from the Government
of National Unity (GNU).
Visit the ZESN
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