The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) has proposed a number of ways through which the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) can conduct elections in the country despite the coronavirus.
The watchdog made the recommendations in a paper titled ‘How to Conduct Elections amid COVID-19: Options for Zimbabwe.’
ZESN suggested ways that reduce face to face interactions which it said need to be piloted. The watchdog further suggested:
- Voter and civic education, accreditation of observers, voters’ roll inspection and electioneering by candidates and political parties could be done using available ICT technologies, Zesn argued.
- Admitted that sorely relying on ICT technologies had negatives, and “would need to be considered in light of internet penetration and accessibility, the high cost of data bundles or those without smartphones” in Zimbabwe.
- Parties and candidates could campaign using text messages which can reach even those not on social media platforms or those without smartphones.
- Campaign materials and information about parties and candidates platforms could be sent to voters through printed election related information booklets distributed to households nationwide.
- Disinfecting polling stations before, during and after polling and introduction of a two tier queuing system at polling stations where voters will be brought into the voting area periodically to prevent overcrowding.
- Sanitising, social distancing, body temperature screening, staggering voting times and regularly disinfecting voting compartments (voting day).
The Zimbabwe Election Advocacy Trust (ZEAT) weighed in, saying the ban on elections was a blow to constitutionalism adding that the lifespan of the pandemic is unknown hence the need to come up with ways to ensure critical processes like elections and electioneering proceed.
Some believe that ZEC’s suspension of the election was a way of ensuring that the MDC-T leader, Thokozani Khupe replaces recalled MDC Alliance legislators with her allies.