Govt urged to craft electoral regulaitons
By A Correspondent
A local election watchdog has urged government and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to speed up the crafting of electoral regulations as the nation prepares for the new polling based and biometric voter registration (BVR) for the 2018 elections.
The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) said electoral regulations are provided for under the Electoral Act, adding they are necessary to among others, specify how postal voting will be administered and make provisions for the process to be open to observation by interested stakeholders.
“As Zimbabwe prepares for the new polling station based and BVR for the 2018 harmonised elections, it is imperative for the Government and the ZEC to speed up the crafting of Electoral Regulations as provided for under Section 192 of the Electoral Act (Chapter 2:13).
“The regulations will seek to set the procedures of all matters provided in the Electoral Act such as the actual duties of electoral officers, the issue of voter registration, voter education, access by observers and journalists to and their conduct at polling stations, membership and functions of the Multi Party Liaison Committees among others,” the ZESN said in its position paper on proposed voter registration regulations.
A biometric vote process electronically captures citizens’ data, including fingerprints and a digital photograph. The biometric system is known for doing away with multiple registrations and voting because it can easily detect duplicates.
The ZESN said the electoral regulations will provide a clear roadmap – complete with processes and time frames – to the next elections.
The election watchdog argued it had a mandate to promote democratic electoral processes in Zimbabwe, and called on ZEC and government to consider its position paper on voter registration, especially with regards to BVR.
“ZEC is on record saying that there are reforms that they are empowered to administer voluntarily (Mero Motu) through Electoral Regulations. It is against this backdrop that ZESN is calling for ZEC and government to put in place a transparent, credible and inclusive process in the formulation of the Regulations for voter registration which has a huge bearing on the administration of elections.
“The election regulations should have clear definition of terms to provide clarity on the interpretation of the terms. Terms that could be considered in the definition of terms section include the definition of ‘voter education’, ‘voter information’, ‘registration centre’, ‘registration staff’, ‘update’, ‘register, roll’, ‘ward’, ‘Commission’, ‘observer’, ‘agents’ among others,” the ZESN added.
Opposition political parties under the banner, National Electoral Reform Agenda (Nera) and civic society groups have been calling for electoral reforms to guarantee free and fair elections, but Higher and Tertiary Education minister Jonathan Moyo recently said ‘Zanu PF will not reform itself out of power’.