By Anna Chibamu
POLL-BASED watchdog, Election Resource Centre (ERC) says the government should adequately finance the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) inorder to strengthen the country’s electoral processes.
In a statement, ERC urged Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube to resource the electoral body to improve on the quality of national elections.
“In light of the 2021 National Budget announced by the Minister of Finance, Mthuli Ncube on Thursday, 26 November, the Election Resource Centre (ERC) calls on the Minister and Parliament to ensure adequate resources are availed to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).
“Over the years, the Commission’s funding has not been adequate and in tandem with the electoral cycle activities which has led to insufficient continuous voter registration and inadequate voter education,” said ERC.
The remarks by the NGO follow last week’s claims by ZEC it had no money to conduct pending national by-elections as only $2.3 billion was allocated to it by Ncube in his 2021 budget.
ERC warned poor funding of the electoral authority could compromise the country’s elections which are often disputed.
“Adequate budgeting for ZEC is essential, taking into account the impending by-elections, the delimitation processes and the 2023 harmonised elections.
“Comprehensive voter education, registration and election administration are key pillars of democracy and adequate resources must be availed to ensure ZEC is able to fulfil its constitutional mandate.
“The net effect of insufficiently funding ZEC will result in inadequate preparedness and will reduce the quality of the by-elections, delimitation exercises and other electoral activities,” said ERC.
Added the group, “ZEC was established to conduct elections democratically and efficiently as the Commission plays a crucial function as administrators of elections, ensuring universal suffrage and guarantors of electoral integrity and political legitimacy.”
ERC also bemoaned ongoing delays in the disbursement of funds for electoral processes leading to often shoddy preparations.
“In the past years, funds have been disbursed late resulting in last minute preparation and execution of electoral processes resulting in elections that do not adhere to international best practice.
“Delimitation is one of the most important electoral processes heading towards the 2023 elections and has a direct impact on the quality of the elections in terms of universal suffrage and representation.”
According to ERC, budgetary inadequacies and the Commission’s financial vulnerabilities have been shielded by the constant support offered by international developmental partners and local CSOs supporting other activities like mobilisation and awareness as adequate reserves must be availed to the Commission to ensure effective administration is carried out.