The United States (US) embassy has urged the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to implement electoral reforms recommended in the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (ZIDERA).
The US imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe in 2001 under ZIDERA following the chaotic land reform programme that was characterised by human rights abuses, economic mismanagement and electoral theft by the government led by the late former President Robert Mugabe.
In a series of tweets yesterday, the US embassy criticised ZEC over the manner the electoral body handled the March 26 by-elections.
It said there was intimidation and assault of voters, which if not addressed would jeopardise the credibility of polls expected next year. The US embassy said:
We commend all the volunteers, observers, party agents, polling agents, police officers and voters who made March 26 by-elections happen and took their time to invest in Zimbabwe’s democracy.
We appreciated the opportunity to observe by-elections, but remain very concerned about harsh rhetoric, intimidation and violent assaults in the lead-up to election day. Voters have the right to participate in political processes free from fear and violence. Zidera requires Zimbabwe to hold an election ‘widely accepted as free and fair by independent international monitors,’ and to sufficiently improve the pre-election environment to be consistent with international standards.
We urge Zec to publicly release an auditable electronic voters roll far in advance of 2023 elections so that citizens can help to strengthen the credibility of the voters roll and reduce the numbers of potential voters turned away from polling stations.
To achieve this, Zimbabwe’s government must commit to a level playing field, apply laws to all candidates and parties and guarantee public media gives nationwide, equal, non-partisan airtime for all candidates during the election period.
Independent electoral watchdogs and statisticians allege that the voters’ roll that was used in the 26 March 2022 by-elections had several discrepancies which include alleged movement of voters from their constituencies and wards and the creation of additional polling stations under unclear circumstances.
Government has, on several occasions, accused the US of working in cahoots with the opposition to push the regime change agenda.
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