The Election Resource Centre (ERC) commends the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) for the clarity that it has set by coming up with a roadmap ahead of the 2018 Harmonized elections.
The ZEC chairperson Justice Rita Makarau, through the state owned weekly Sunday Mail, briefly explained the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR), the procurement of the BVR equipment, dates elections are likely to be held, polling station based voting, demarcation and budget, although she could not disclose figures.
However, the ERC is concerned with the fact that the Election Management Body failed to elucidate how it intends to work with election stakeholders ahead of the upcoming Harmonized elections.
In addition the bidding process for supply of BVR kits that is currently underway must be done transparently and guided by merit so that a competent company gets the tender. Indeed electoral stakeholders must constantly be informed about stages of the procurement procedures and be enlightened of the ultimate decision making processes as ZEC eventually settles for a suitable vendor.
Furthermore, ZEC highlighted that registration of prospective voters is expected to kick start in April and end in November 2017. Realizing that April 2017 is only two months ahead, the ERC is concerned that comprehensive voter education which is an inalienable precursor to any credible voter registration drive, is far from being conducted. To mitigate against this noted delay, ZEC must establish an effective voter education model which must seriously consider de-restricting non state actors from also providing voter education.
The ERC remains deeply concerned by ZEC’s unwillingness in fulfilling comprehensively the constitutional call for extension of the right to vote to all Zimbabweans especially those in the diaspora, prisoners and people in hospitals. Equally important is for ZEC to lay out clearly in its roadmap, plans to ensure access for registration by often marginalized groups of persons with disability, the elderly and the infirm who might not have the means to visit their nearest registration centres.
Crucially, the ERC calls upon treasury to avail enough resources to the Commission so that it executes its programs in time. Success of any operational roadmap is only guaranteed through the availability of necessary resources. Treasury is implored not to set ZEC on “a road map to failure” by failing to adequately fund such a crucial electoral process like voter registration.
Finally, as the electoral commission has laid open their roadmap ahead of the 2018 elections, it becomes even more compelling for the Government of Zimbabwe and Parliament to expedite the alignment of the Constitution with the Electoral Act. It only takes a sound electoral regulatory framework to guarantee the credibility of any upcoming electoral process.