By Staff Reporter
UNDER FIRE local poll watcher the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) has received support from its international peers.
Zesn had, of late, come under fire mainly from opposition groups following a post-election report that seemed to give the country’s July elections a seal of approval.
In a statement Friday, the Global Network of Domestic Election Monitors (GNDEM) said if anything Zesn has been vindicated and that its findings were spot-on.
“Zesn undertook a comprehensive effort to observe the 2018 harmonized elections and issued a number of statements on the conduct of the elections.
“These statements highlight both improvements and shortcomings in the electoral process.
“For example, Zesn long-term observers reported that all parties were able to campaign across the country, but also that intimidation of voters, particularly in rural areas, continued.
Similarly, computer analysis of the final voters’ roll showed both overall improvement over the 2013 preliminary voters roll and continued under registration in urban areas.
“Zesn has come under particular criticism over the findings from its sample-based observation (SBO) – also known as a parallel vote tabulation (PVT) or quick count.”
GNDEM said Zesn’s methods have already been adopted elsewhere.
“SBO is a proven, advanced citizen observation methodology first developed by in 1986 in the Philippines by the National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL).
“The methodology has since been used by citizen observer groups around the world and across Africa – including Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Senegal, and Zambia.
“The methodology provides the most precise and timely information on the conduct of voting and counting and independently verifies the accuracy of the official results.”
Zesn’s election predictions were in tandem with those produced by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec), dealing a body blow to claims that Zanu PF had rigged its way to victory.
The local election watchdog had one of the biggest contingents of poll observers countrywide.
GANDEM said it stands with Zesn.
“While the environment in Zimbabwe is highly polarized and the results of the presidential election are contested, GNDEM stands in solidarity with Zesn and the SBO methodology.
“Zesn has provided independent and impartial information throughout the electoral process that has highlighted both strengths and weaknesses.
“Further, the SBO is a proven methodology widely employed around the world and across Africa.
“While the results announced by ZEC for the Zimbabwe 2018 presidential election fall within the SBO range, they also do not rule out the possibility of a runoff election.”
GNDEM is a network of 251 citizen observer groups located in 89 countries of which Zesn is a founding member.