Use by-elections to cure poll running flaws, ERC urges ZEC

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By Staff Reporter

TOP elections NGO, Election Resource Centre (ERC) has urged Zimbabwe’s electoral authorities to use pending by-elections to perfect their poor handling of the country’s polls.

This comes as the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has just announced plans to run 3 local authority by-elections between January and February 2019.

“…The ERC urges the election management body to use the by-elections as testing ground for operational and administrative reforms necessary to address the inadequacies noted by observers during the 2018 harmonised election,” ERC executive director Tawanda Chimhini said in a statement.

Zimbabwe’s successive elections have failed to escape the curse of controversy that has been associated with allegedly cheating incumbents.

In all the disputed elections, the country’s poll management authority has come under fire for allegedly subordinating its functions to the control of the ruling party and proxies within ZEC’s ranks.

As allegations of favouritism were being thrown at her and her organisation, ZEC chair Priscilla Chigumba has adamantly maintained she was being crucified for being a stickler for the country’s electoral laws.

She has repeatedly urged those unhappy with her decisions to approach parliament and change the laws which she has pledged to gladly follow.

However, ERC maintains not all to do with national polls required legislative changes.

“It would be unfortunate if the same challenges used to dispute the 2018 election outcome were to be repeated in by-elections conducted between now and 2023,” said the group.

“The ERC maintains that not all electoral reforms require the law to be changed.

“The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission can make administrative changes to the conduct of polls based on the constitutional provision that they must ensure elections are conducted efficiently, freely, fairly, transparently and in accordance with the law.”

Away from the country’s high stakes national polls which generate lots of controversy every five years, the ERC maintains ZEC has to exercise the freedom to fully publish the preliminary and final voters’ rolls ahead of by-elections.

ERC also wants ZEC to “transparently and regularly cleaning up the voters’ rolls, posting voters’ rolls outside polling stations for easier referencing by voters, establish a transparent results management system backed by published official returns from each polling station, transparent management of postal voting in accordance with provisions of the law and sufficiently enforcing the electoral Code of conduct for political parties”.