Elections watchdog, the Election Resource Centre (ERC) has challenged the Zimbabwean government to adequately fund the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) ahead of the 2023 elections.
The ERC said the government must not negate its obligation of adequately funding the Electoral Commission and to institute the required reforms and alignment of the laws to the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
After the 2021 National Budget, ZEC claimed it had no money to conduct pending national by-elections as only $2.3 billion was allocated to it by Ncube in his 2021 budget.
The budget allocated $1,744 billion to ZEC to conduct the delimitation exercise ahead of the 2023 harmonised elections.
In a statement, ERC said this was not enough to enable ZEC to carry out smooth and quality elections.
ERC reiterates and reminds all electoral stakeholders that holding elections at all levels and set timelines are non-negotiable as this is set out in the national Constitution. The financial support coupled with the necessary reforms is the bedrock that anchors electoral processes that meet constitutional benchmarks and regionally and internationally agreed standards.
“The Minister of Finance, Mthuli Ncube on Thursday, 26 November, presented the National Budget for the fiscal year 2021, and ZEC was allocated a mere 19% of their budgetary proposal. Adequate budgeting for ZEC is essential, taking into account the impending by-elections, the delimitation processes, and the 2023 Harmonised elections,” the ERC said.
The money, the election watchdog said, is not enough for ZEC to carryout comprehensive voter education, registration, and election administration which are key pillars of democracy.
“Resources must be availed to ensure ZEC is able to fulfil its Constitutional mandate. Under-resourcing ZEC does not in any way reflect the government’s sincerity to electoral processes in the country,” the organisation further sated.
Last week, the Parliamentary Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Committee led by Musikavanhu legislator, Joshua Murire (Zanu PF), said there was a need for more budgetary support for ZEC to conduct delimitation to complete the exercise within the envisaged period.
“The current appropriation of $1,744 billion is as good as seed money for the delimitation exercise that needs to be undertaken. The Government has tabled the amendment of the Census and Statistics Act so that the next census is conducted by 31 July 2022, and every ten years thereafter,” said Murire.
In the past, funds have been disbursed late resulting in last-minute preparation and execution of electoral processes resulting in elections that do not adhere to national laws, regional and international best practices.
“ZEC must start preparations for the delimitation build-up processes and underfunding the Commission at this juncture is a mockery to the mandate of the Commission and thus derails preparations towards the 2023 elections and has a direct impact on the quality of the elections in terms of universal suffrage and representation,” ERC said.