The Election Resource Centre (ERC) welcomes the decision taken by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to acknowledge the important role played by electoral stakeholders in election processes and the additional call on stakeholders to make submissions on the draft ZEC COVID-19 Policy.
The assurance to deliver credible, free and fair elections still stands as the foundation of ZEC’s constitutional duties.
The draft policy fails to address key election issues such as access to media, voters’ roll inspection, comprehensive voter registration exercises and the mobility of citizens to participate in election processes under lockdown.
ZEC must ensure adherence to the qualitative attributes of a credible, free and fair election which includes inclusiveness, transparency and accountability in all electoral activities.
It is crucial that ZEC, through their COVID-19 Policy, have a transparent conversation about the pros and cons of holding elections under current circumstances, as well as the risks of a continued postponement of elections.
ZEC in establishing the framework of the Covid-19 Policy on Electoral Activities must ensure that the rights and responsibilities expressed, are not impacted by the existence of Statutory Instruments during an election period.
In pursuit of democracy under COVID-19, the public’s right to participate in elections and electoral activities must not be limited arbitrarily.
The Statutory Instruments have a potential negative bearing on the freeness and fairness of the electoral environment, as the SI’s impact on access to information, participation in electoral processes such as registration, inspection and the overall quality of the vote.
ZEC must continue with the inclusive and consultative approach to electoral activities beyond the drafting of the COVID-19 Policy, by including civil society and election stakeholders in all decision-making processes related to elections under Covid-19 and beyond.
The biggest challenge with elections in Zimbabwe is not COVID-19 but the delivery of the qualitative aspects of elections which affects the credibility of electoral processes.
It is not simply about conducting elections under COVID-19 but ensuring free, fair and credible elections under COVID-19 and beyond.
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