IT is encouraging that the government, the opposition and civil society are all talking about electoral reforms. This is a good thing.
There is a realisation from all involved that elections under the current restrictive laws would be of little use. There is still no consensus on the form and extent of the crucial reforms that would make elections in Zimbabwe credible and move the country forward.
Sustainable nation building demands inclusive consultation where all stakeholders are equal partners with a common interest.
Inclusive policy making guarantees wider purchase by all stakeholders paving a durable pathway towards peace, stability and sustainable prosperity.
Policy making and institutions that marginalise certain stakeholders create ill-feelings and mistrust among compatriots which undermine nation building.
State-sponsored violence before, during and after elections since independence, has eroded the public’s confidence in electoral democracy. What is the point of voting when the whole process is rigged for the benefit of the incumbent?
The release of the “Pre-election Pact on Electoral Reforms” by the Nelson Chamisa-led Citizens Coalition for Change, and the government’s Electoral Amendment Bill 2022 offer an intersection of ideas for dialogue that will result in national consensus on electoral reforms.
Zanu PF and the opposition are important stakeholders in the Zimbabwean story; so are organised business and faith-based organisations. No effort must be spared in widening the circle to ensure broad-based buy-in by all stakeholders.
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So, the next step must be a citizen gathering, the objective of which is an agreement on a complete package of reforms. This process requires statesmen and women who rise above sectional interests and set their gaze on what is important for the 16 million people who make up the Zimbabwean nation.
As I indicated last week, elections held under current conditions will most likely be contested and plant more seeds of disunity and instability. The experience of the past 42 years has shown that contested elections and our violent politics have been our undoing as a nation.
Is there enough time to do this important work before the next election?
The answer is an emphatic: Yes!!
Postpone the 2023 elections if need be, so that the next plebiscite is undertaken in near-perfect conditions. Credible elections, whose outcome is not contested, are an important building block for a common purpose, national development and prosperity for all.
Zimbabwe desperately needs normality for the majority of its citizens to breathe and dream again. All politicians genuinely invested in securing a better life for the majority of our citizens, particularly the poor, the widows and orphans, should grab this opportunity.
Lack of electoral reforms has been sighted as the justification for economic sanctions against Zimbabwe. It is in our self-interest to have a level playing field for free democratic expression.
We have within us the power to do what will result in the lifting of sanctions – not to please anybody but for our own self-interest. Electoral reforms are good for Zanu PF, the opposition and all peace-loving citizens. Let us do this for posterity and for the love of Zimbabwe.
- Trevor Ncube is a Zimbabwe entrepreneur and Alpha Media Holdings (AMH) chairman. AMH are the publishers of NewsDay, The Standard, Zimbabwe Independent, Southern Eye and Weekly Digest and operates Heart and Soul Broadcasting Service. This is taken from the In Conversation with Trevor newsletter.