By Mlondolozi Ndlovu
Harare, September 09, 2016 – THE Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) has condemned the contempt which has been shown towards opposition demands for electoral reforms by ministers in President Robert Mugabe’s government.
Higher and Tertiary Education Minister Jonathan Moyo and Saviour Kasukuwere, in charge of Local Government, last week took turns to rubbish demands for a level electoral playing field by Zanu PF opponents.
Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa also followed with claims the opposition was virtually demanding a law which says every Zimbabwean should vote for them.
However, in a statement Thursday, ZESN said the utterances by the Zanu PF officials were unfortunate and not in tandem with democratic principles in the country.
“The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) is concerned by utterances attributed to senior Government officials in the media insinuating that there will be no more electoral reforms before the 2018 harmonised elections,” said ZESN in statement.
“The utterances come against a background of numerous calls by CSOs and 2013 regional observer groups for the full alignment of Electoral laws to the Constitution as well as for the creation of an enabling political environment.”
The electoral watchdog noted that the government was being slow in the implementation of the electoral reforms saying these statements were bad for constitutionalism in the country.
“ZESN, cognisant of recent efforts by the Government to implement electoral reforms such as the General Laws Amendment Act (2016), reiterates its position that the reforms have been piecemeal, selective and inadequate. In addition, the slow pace of alignment of the country’s laws to the Constitution threatens the entrenchment of democratic values and raises questions on the constitutionality of future elections in the absence of substantive realignment and reforms,” said the group.
The lobby group also said there was need for Zimbabwe to implement the recommendations of the elections suggested by observer missions in the disputed 2013 elections.
“ZESN notes that there are still a number of pertinent reforms that need to be implemented as recommended by the African Union and SADC 2013 observer missions related to the electoral architecture, the political environment and ZEC operations. Furthermore, a number of provisions in the current electoral laws are misaligned with the Constitution in a number of ways and in some respects undermine the letter and spirit of the Constitution,” ZESN said.
The group also highlighted that they was need for the country’s electoral management board ZEC to be independent and be monitored by Parliament.
“ZESN notes that the independence of ZEC is compromised by the fact that the Commission reports to the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs. ZESN recommends that Parliament should instead have that oversight role so that the independence of ZEC is not undermined,” ZESN said.