9 July 2012

Zimbabwe: Parties' Code of Conduct Providential


As we count down to harmonised elections scheduled for the coming months, political temperatures will naturally rise and the gains made by the inclusive Government vis-à-vis fostering a spirit of team Zimbabwe will be severely tested.

In fact, the next election will be an evaluation of the inclusive Government that was formed to foster an environment of socio-economic stability in readiness for elections.

The elections will test the maturity of our democracy given the events of 2008 that all parties in Government acknowledged culpability for.

Prior to the 2008 harmonised polls, a lot had gone into preparing for peaceful elections, including the adoption of the Sadc guidelines on the conduct of democratic elections.

But as became evident during the campaign period, the guidelines could not rein in political parties and their supporters who engaged in running battles.

This is why reports that the Organ on National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration has come up with a code of conduct for political parties are providential.

Minister of State in the Office of The President and Cabinet responsible for the Organ on National Healing, Ms Sekai Holland, who spoke on behalf of the other two chairpersons Vice President John Nkomo and Mr Moses Mzila-Ndlovu, last week said the Code of Conduct was nearing completion.

The three secretaries-general of the parties to the inclusive Government are reviewing the draft code ahead of its endorsement.

It is envisaged that the code will assist in reducing politically motivated violence.

We call on the parties to expedite the process to enable them to instil the guidelines through the rank and file of their organisations ahead of the elections.

We, however, hasten to add that a code, on its own, is meaningless unless it is tied to an enforcement mechanism.

To this end, we urge the parties to learn from others who adopted and implemented similar codes.

In Ghana, for instance, the adoption of the code was tied to the establishment of a National Enforcement Body with 10 regional enforcement organs across the country' with a view to implementing the provisions of the code and, where necessary, sanction those who breached its provisions.

We believe the final document should not be left in the hands of only members of parties to the inclusive Government but also cascade to the smaller fringe parties that also partake in national elections whenever they are called.

Not only that. The code should be accompanied by extensive public education so that the message permeates to the grassroots.

We salute the police for their recent declaration of zero-tolerance to politically motivated violence.

Any infractions of the peace should be dealt with in a deterrent manner.

Failure to comprehensively deal with breaches of the peace will motivate others to do the same, if not worse.

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