THE Election Resource Centre (ERC) welcomes Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec)’s decision to acknowledge the role played by stakeholders in election processes and the call on stakeholders to make submissions on the draft Zec COVID-19 policy.
Election Resource Centre
The assurance to deliver credible, free and fair elections still stands as the foundation of Zec’s mandate. The draft policy fails to address key election issues such as access to media, voters’ roll inspection, comprehensive voter registration exercises and the mobility of citizens to participate in election processes under lockdown.
Zec must ensure adherence to the qualitative attributes of a credible, free and fair election which includes inclusiveness, transparency and accountability in all electoral activities. It is crucial that Zec, through its COVID-19 policy, has a transparent conversation about the pros and cons of holding elections under current circumstances, as well as the risks associated with the continued postponement of elections.
Zec in establishing a framework of the COVID-19 policy on electoral activities must ensure that the rights and responsibilities expressed are not impacted by statutory instruments (SIs) during an election period.
In pursuit of democracy under COVID-19, the public’s right to participate in electoral activities must not be limited arbitrarily. The SIs have a potential negative bearing on the freeness and fairness of the electoral environment, as the SIs impact on access to information, participation in electoral processes such as registration, inspection and the overall quality of the vote.
Zec must continue with the inclusive and consultative approach to electoral activities beyond the drafting of the COVID-19 policy, by including civil society and election stakeholders in all decision-making processes related to elections under COVID-19 and beyond.
The biggest challenge with elections in Zimbabwe is not COVID-19, but the delivery of the qualitative aspects of elections which affect the credibility of electoral processes. It is not simply about conducting elections under COVID-19, but ensuring free, fair and credible elections under COVID-19 and beyond.