Zec should engage stakeholders

WHILE we welcome the announcement by Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) chairperson Justice Rita Makarau that it completed its road map to the 2018 elections, the elections body has to share this with stakeholders.

Zec announced recently that it had finalised its 2018 harmonised elections road map, and plans to come up with a “perfect” voters’ roll between April and December 2017 time which it will also demarcate polling station maps.

We are glad that a Zec-appointed technical committee is already assessing 12 potential biometric voter-registration kit suppliers and will shortlist three of them in the next two weeks — at least there is movement.

Zec should shed more light on the details of  the  road map, the actual processes that will be taking place at each stage to enable stakeholders to prepare adequately.

Zec should always engage all major stakeholders, particularly political parties, in all preparations for the 2018 elections.
It should engage stakeholders forthwith and ensure that the process is clearly understood and that every eligible voter in Zimbabwe gets correct information and voter education about the processes.

This initiative allows stakeholders to trace and help in the achievement of the various milestones of that road map.
We would have hoped that this road map would have been prepared much earlier to allow for exhaustive oversight of all election-related processes as part of entrenching transparency in managing elections.

Zec should also lobby for more funding from government for it to produce a credible, free and fair election that meets our own standards, Sadc, African Union and international expectations because the heaviest costs for elections are in the preparations and not the polling day processes.

The road map should not be just focused on the technicalities of implementing the biometric system without addressing issues of the electoral environment that include intimidation, abuse of state media, vote-buying, and use of traditional leaders.

Various stakeholders are still not happy with numerous issues ranging from the administration of the election themselves and the electoral environment which remains tilted in favour of the ruling party.

Zec should ensure there is transparency in the whole process, starting with procurement of electoral requirements, storage of the ballot materials and the nefarious laws that hinder free expression, association and movement.

At the end of it all Zec must also totally-disentangle itself from the armpits of the ruling party towards being an independent administrator of credible elections. Zec should desist from operating on the basis of accounting to those in power and not the people of Zimbabwe.

It must also work extremely hard to do all it takes to gain the confidence of stakeholders outside the establishment. The road map to the 2018 elections must be transparent and it should also be anchored on the principles of accountability, honesty and integrity.

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