As the 2018 elections draw closer, electoral stakeholders have called on Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to come up with stringent measures that deter the abuse of assisted voting.
Election Resource Centre (ERC), a leading poll watchdog in the country noted that effective measures are needed to ensure the credibility of elections.
“It is imperative that effective measures are taken to ensure that only persons who genuinely need assistance to vote and who want such assistance are given such assistance,” the organisation said in a statement.
The electoral lobby group added that if possible, assisted voters should be allowed to indicate so when they register to safeguard against abuse of this privilege by political parties.
“There should be provisions where under those persons who wish to receive assistance in voting will be asked to indicate this when they register to vote. They will also be asked to indicate what form of assistance they will require e.g. that blind voters want to use Braille template so that they can vote in secret or that illiterate voters will want to be assisted by trusted friends,” reads part of the statement.
According to ERC, 2013 elections recorded a high number of assisted voters, something they say can be attributed to intimidation and resultant fear.
The organisation also urged the Parliament of Zimbabwe to facilitate legal changes that are consistent with the rights provided for in the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
In addition ERC called on ZEC to take advantage of its constitutional provisions to recommend laws that enhance the credibility of elections.
“The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to utilize their mandate under section 157 (4) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe to propose laws,” said the ERC.
Section 157 of the Constitution says, “No amendments may be made to the Electoral Law, or to any subsidiary made under that law, unless Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has been consulted and any recommendations made by the Commission have been duly considered.”
The ERC said ZEC should champion the rights of people living with disabilities.
“ZEC through voter registration regulations and voter education should advance the rights of people living with disabilities and the illiterate,” the ERC said.
ERC appealed to ZEC to enable the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC), multi-party liaison committees and political parties to monitor the situation on the ground and ensure that the system of assisted voting is not politically abused.