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ZimRights decries low turnout of women and youth in election processes

Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) has implored the government to implement policies that will enhance the participation of women and youths in the electoral process.

In a recent statement on “human rights priorities in the face of shrinking civic and democratic space in Zimbabwe” the association noted that the limited participation could be linked to lack of documentation, an issue the government must look into.

ZimRights urged the government to facilitate access to identity documents to enable people to register as voters and to vote.

“The constitution of Zimbabwe enshrines foundational democratic elements of participation, transparency and accountability. However, despite the fact that Zimbabwe has a progressive Constitution that guarantees citizens’ rights and freedoms and offers multiple entry points for citizen participation, a growing number of citizens are increasingly unconcerned, apathetic, and unresponsive to civic engagement and democratic processes,” ZimRights said.

“For instance; the constitutional women’s quota for parliamentary seats which should positively impact on women has failed to raise women’s voices in policy and governance. This is a glaring lack of representation of women in leadership roles. In addition, another group that has shown a lack of participation in democratic processes is the youth who are either sidelined or alienated from electoral processes, weakening the groundworks of citizenship and democracy.”

The association noted that despite the existence of progressive policies and laws, which present opportunities for youth to contribute towards democratic processes, there is limited participation of young people in national and local decision-making processes.

“We propose that the government facilitates access to identity documents to enable people to register as voters and to vote. There is a need to Implement recommendations from national and international independent observer missions to the 2018 harmonised elections,” said ZimRights.

ZimRights further raised concern that the role of the security sector in civilian affairs continues to be of concern since the new dispensation took over control in 2017.

“As we are approaching the 2023 Harmonised Election, Government has failed to comply with the recommendations made by Montlante Commission of Inquiry which addressed the killing of civilians by the military on 1 August 2018, following the delay in pronouncement of the Presidential election results,” ZimRights noted.

“In order to mitigate the occurrence of such acts in future elections, there is need for security sector reform, implementation of the Motlanthe Commission recommendations and the establishment of effective mechanisms for handling any further complaints against the security services.”

ZimRights recommended that the government ensures there is adequate civilian control of security services in line with UN principles and the Zimbabwean Constitution, implements the recommendations and the Motlanthe Commission and establish a Constitutional Mechanism to handle complaints against the security services in line with the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

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