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This article participates on the following special index pages:

  • Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles


  • Zimbabwe ready for elections? Pre-election 2013 report
    Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)
    July 30
    , 2013

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    Introduction

    The harmonised elections set for 31 July 2013 remain perhaps the most significant yet contested polls in the history of Zimbabwe. Not only has the timing of the actual poll been uncertain,1 but the polls are also approaching at a time when the curtains are coming down on the embattled Inclusive Government (IG) that was akin to a love-hate relationship amongst the three main political parties represented in Parliament. Threats of disengagement, accusations and counter-accusations of maladministration and breaches of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) were common since the consummation of the IG on 9 February 2009. A new Constitution was adopted after a national referendum on 16 March 2013, ushering in a new electoral system.2 Unlike in previous elections that implemented the first-past-the-post (absolute majority) system, the new Constitution introduced a mixed system of first-past-the-post, with a dose of proportional representation for the Senate and Provincial Councils, together with a women’s quota.3 Additional changes included representation of people with special needs.4 It is within the framework of this new electoral system that the 31 July elections are set to take place.

    It is widely accepted that, for conclusive credible, free and fair elections to be achieved, there is need for a clear legislative framework that creates a foundation to protect the integrity of electoral processes and minimise conflict and disputes. This framework must be supported by adequate, functional policies, laws and supporting democratic state institutions that are effective, non-partisan and instill public confidence in their operations. Over the years, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) has advocated for reform of laws and institutions that impact on the conduct of elections in a manner that allows the citizenry to fully participate in the governance of the country, as is their constitutional right. A clear and respected constitutional and legal framework will allow Zimbabwe to transition to a democratic state without contestation. Such a framework must comply with norms, standards and good practices developed at the sub-regional, regional and international level. Zimbabwe is a member of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), African Union (AU) and United Nations (UN), and these institutions have over the years provided minimum guidelines on the conduct of credible, free and fair elections.

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