CIVIC groups have said electoral reforms tabled by the Zanu PF government are useful “in as far as they go”, but would need to be accompanied by other measures to restore demo
Government last week announced the establishment of an “independent” electoral commission to handle the forthcoming parliamentary election. It proposed voting in one day, doing away with mobile polling stations and increasing the number of static ones. The proposals envisage verification and counting of ballots at the polling station, the use of translucent boxes and visible indelible ink during polling.
The reforms propose the establishment of an electoral court to immediately deal with major electoral disputes. The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN), a coalition of 36 non-governmental organisations that has been actively advocating substantial electoral reforms in keeping with the Sadc parliamentary norms and standards, welcomed the reforms but said there were a number of inconsistencies in the announcement.
“For example, it reports that the Registrar-General’s Office will have no role in the organisation and running of elections yet it proceeds to say that the Registrar General’s Office will continue to register voters,” observed ZESN chairman, Dr Reginald Matchaba-Hove. “The report also adds that the Delimitation Commission will continue to function. It is our understanding that a fully independent electoral commission would have to have complete authority over voter registration and delimitation of constituencies.”
Matchaba-Hove said flawed electoral processes were known to cause political instability. He urged all political parties and other stakeholders to fully embrace the “comprehensive electoral reforms”.
“We look forward to seeing the proposals on paper for full debate in parliament and elsewhere,” he said.