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Expedite electoral reforms ahead of polls: CSOs urge govt

Civic Society Organisations (CSOs) in Zimbabwe have called on the government to expedite the implementation of outstanding electoral reforms ahead of the 2023 elections.

This came out in a 2020/2021 report submitted by CSOs to African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM)-Africa’s premier governance self-assessment and promotion tool which aims to improve governance across the continent.

APRM fosters the adoption of policies, standards and practices that lead to political stability, economic growth, sustainable development and accelerated sub-regional and continental economic integration, through the reinforcement of best practices.

The CSOs, in their report, lamented that elections in Zimbabwe have been highly contentious with allegations of intimidation and rigging, and consequent suspicions about the legitimacy of their outcomes.

“The country’s electoral system is well conceived, but subject to significant failings. These include the institutional design of ZEC (Zimbabwe Electoral Commission) – its chairperson is appointed by the president and it is not financially independent – and its conduct, as it has been widely criticised for acting in a manner which appeared to defer to the Executive,” the report read.

“In addition, a raft of concerns exist about the conduct of Zimbabwean politics and the adherence of the state and some other actors to the demands of the Constitution. These include the pledging of party-political allegiance by traditional leaders, the use of violence and intimidation, the disenfranchisement of Zimbabweans living abroad and the favouritism shown by state media to the ruling party.”

The report alleged that courts also seem to have taken a partisan role.

“Civil society therefore recommends that the Constitution and the law be adhered to, the independence of the ZEC be respected in fact and outstanding electoral reforms be completed before the 2023 elections,” read the report.

“Parties should desist from abusing state resources for their own purposes, and regional and continental bodies should hold Zimbabwe to account to maintain necessary democratic standards.”

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