By Watmore Makokoba
With only a few months to go before the 2018 general elections, there is no significant change that guarantees a paradigm shift in reforms and governance, signifying a high possibility that the forthcoming elections will be yet another flaw and sham.
According to the Election Barometer launched by the Election Resource Centre in Harare last week, the year under review – June 2016 to August 2017 witnessed little progress in the reform of the assessed frameworks.
“2013 election was held amidst several challenges including unavailability of voters’ roll, administrative challenges with special voting, political intolerance, hate speech, inadequate funding, excessive ballot papers restricted access to public media by the opposition, and limited voter education among others.
However, myriad of problems still exist concerning the administrative, political and legislative framework within which elections are held” the Barometer noted.
“With approximately twelve (12) months before the 2018 harmonized elections, the country is now in the pre-election period of the electoral cycle,
“There are certain prerequisites that must be undertaken ahead of an election, fundamental to these processes are planning, information, training and registration. Under planning, ZEC as the Electoral Management Body (EMB) must consider issues such as election budgeting and funding, procurement, election timeliness and recruitment of staff,
The barometer further noted that “Trust in ZEC remains average at 50%, according to Round 7 of Afrobarometer findings in 2017,
Previous surveys by ERC and Mass Public Opinion Institute (MPOI) pointed to 48% level of trust gaining by a paltry 2% margin a year before a general election does not suffice for an overall credibility and integrity rating,
“A key element of integrity is oversight and enforcement, there are no or limited legal frameworks for oversight of the voter registration process, the six by-elections under review witnessed limited voter registration process and there were no accredited observers for the process”.
Concurring with the Election Barometer, the Zimbabwe Human rights Association (ZimRights) noted that the pace at which voter registration has been happening was slow at some of the registration centres to an extent that people would wait the whole day.
“In some cases, those frustrated at the registration exercise slow pace ended up going back home, such experiences of the BVR process by prospective registrants can result in apathy. The ability to register as a voter is a crucial step to the realization of the constitutional right to vote,
“Some of the registration centres did not have signage to aid people to easily find them”, says ZimRights.
In an effort to deal with the proof of residence requirement, many people are preferring to use the VR 1 and VR 9 forms provided by ZEC and have a commissioner of oaths to stamp them, however, in many cases, the commissioner of oaths was not present to assist people. Some registration centres did not have the stationery and people had to photocopy them on their own and pay the commissioner of oaths.
The Election Reform Barometer was published from the pre-election to the post-electoral period of the election cycle focusing on the specific election period measured against international principles and electoral law. The latest issue assesses the pre-election period using four indicators – voter registration, voter education, access to media and political environment.