Thursday, 1 August 2019

WE ARE CONSIDERING A RAFT OF MEASURES : ZEC


The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission is considering a raft of measures gleaned from other electoral bodies on the continent to improve conduct of elections ahead of 2023 when the next election is due.

This also includes lobbying Parliament to amend the Constitution and allow for the delimitation exercise to be conducted ahead of schedule and extension of the women’s quota system.

Other measures include adoption of a code of conduct for political parties that provides for docking of votes after violation of its provisions and barring such offending parties from campaigning in certain areas or advertising in the media depending on the gravity of the offence. 

Some of the measures are contained in the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (ACDEG) which is in the process of being ratified.

It has gone through both houses of Parliament and is now with the Ministry Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.

ZEC Commissioner Joyce Kazembe said the Commission was committed to facilitating conduct of democratic elections in line with ACDEG.

“We are together with civic society and other stakeholders in wishing that people exercise their democratic rights in a manner that is defined in the ACDEG,” she said. 

“This ensures that we are on the same plane in Africa because we have different ways of expressing democracy, elections and so on, but the intention of the ACDEG is that Africa as a continent comes together and has sort of an agreement.”

Comm Kazembe said realisation of democratic ideals was being entrenched through engagements with the people, civic society, faith based organisations, political parties, Parliament and other commissions.

“Although the ACDEG is still in the process of ratification we have already started implementing some of its provisions because it is in our mandate,” she said.

“Part of it includes lobbying and asking Parliament to reform the laws because there is a disjuncture between what is in the Electoral Law and the Constitution. So they need to be aligned.”

ZEC legal services director Ms Shamiso Chahuruva said there was need for amendment of the Constitution to bring forward the delimitation exercise last conducted in 2012 and due in 2023 according to the 10-year cycle.

“From our various engagements with various stakeholders, there are a number of issues that have emerged which as ZEC we are considering and have included in a raft of proposals for amendment of the Constitution,” she said. 

“In terms of the law, the delimitation exercise is supposed to be conducted in 2023 after the population census. We are trying to lobby Parliament through the Ministry of Justice to allow the commission to conduct the exercise earlier than 2023.”

Ms Chahuruva said reforms were also looking at postal voting.

“We are currently involved in researching how other jurisdictions deal with issues of diaspora voting,” she said. “We know for example that in Mozambique two seats are reserved for people in the diaspora.

“These are the issues we want to bring to the people so that they know that this is what is done in other countries so that we can come up with our own model as Zimbabwe.”

ZEC is also considering discarding the current “persuasive” code of conduct to one with sanctions for violations, including docking of votes for offences like the South African code.

“In our peer learning visits with various electoral management bodies we have learnt that there is regulation of their political parties and their electoral code of conduct empowers or sanctions non-conforming political parties,” said Ms Chahuruva. Chronicle

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