The Election Resource Centre (ERC) Africa has said that cases of voter intimidation by the security services in their quest to maintain law and order are eroding the people’s confidence in the electoral processes.
This statement comes as ERC joined the rest of Zimbabweans throughout the world in commemorating National Heroes Day on August 14, 2023.
ERC said they commemorate the liberation accomplishments that are now incorporated in Zimbabwe’s Constitution, which include the rights to freedom of expression, association, assembly, and, most importantly, universal adult suffrage and the right to free and fair elections.
“Cases of voter intimidation and violation by the security services in their quest to maintain law and order have been observed and this further erodes the people’s confidence in the electoral processes. We urge our security services to uphold the tenets of the Constitution and subsequent laws governing their role and conduct especially in relation to civilians and election-related processes,” said ERC.
According to the organisation, while the Constitution protects Zimbabweans’ political and civil rights, gaps in implementation exist, and Zimbabweans in the Diaspora, prisons and hospitals do not have the right to vote today.
ERC added that Zimbabweans in rural areas continue to feel harassed and intimidated from enjoying free association and participation in political activity of their choice, especially with alternative political formations and candidates apart from the current ruling party.
“General public sentiment as noted in numerous surveys reveal that people have very little confidence in the electoral process as well as the election management body in the country.”
ERC said during the liberation war, women and youths played very critical roles in enabling the guerillas, sadly, in this current election, the number and level of women’s participation as candidates is very poor, far less than it was in the 2018 elections.
“The same can be said about youths and people with disabilities. Zimbabwe is still far below becoming an inclusive nation as many vulnerable groups are left behind when it comes to political participation,” said the organisation
ERC underlined that Zimbabwe’s current heroes and heroines are those who registered to exercise their right to vote.
“We urge all registered voters to go out and cast their vote on the 23rd of August 2023. High voter turnout can be the tribute we give to our heroes and heroines who sacrificed so that we attain universal adult suffrage,” said the organisation.
“The right to universal suffrage which was fought for, can only be truly achieved when the necessary safety nets through reforms to the electoral laws are instituted. A deep reflection by all electoral stakeholders is important to achieve credible, free and fair polls in future.”
ERC noted that while it applauds efforts by the Church to have political parties sign the peace pledge, incidents of political violence, which include the use of hate speech, defacing of political material and disruption of political meetings and rallies across the country continue to be witnessed.
“There is a disconnect between what is said and done by political leadership at national level with what is obtained in communities,” lamented ERC.