6 February 2013

Zimbabwe: Code of Conduct Agreed On Ahead of Polls

PRINCIPALS in the inclusive government have agreed on a code of conduct to curb violence ahead of crucial elections likely to be held in June this year.

But analysts warn that the initiative could be rendered meaningless since it excludes State security agents fingered in past incidences of politically-motivated violence.

The code of conduct will form part of the Electoral Amendment Act presently being formulated by the three parties signatory to the Global Political Agreement (GPA).

Among other things, it bars perpetrators of political violence from taking part in the electoral process, for instance attending and let alone addressing rallies or gatherings.

Those fingered in acts of violence would be prohibited from standing as candidates including in local government polls.

Analysts view the code signed by leaders of the main political parties including Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara as a generic requirement in most election management systems in established democracies.

While analysts reason that the code has good intentions, they say it might not be implemented due to the wrangling in the coalition.

"The crux of the matter is not in merely establishing it, but more about its implementation. Given that political parties have failed to implement the GPA reforms, it is highly unlikely that this code would be easily implemented and ensure a self-regulatory mechanism by Zimbabwe's political institutions. We need it yes, but we need to further urge it by ensuring we have a compliance guideline inclusive of corrective measures should parties decide to intentionally violate it," said Trevor Maisiri, a political analyst.

Dumisani Nkomo, another political analyst, concurred. He said there should be political will by all the parties to adhere to the code of conduct to minimise incidents of political violence during the forthcoming elections.

"It is a brilliant idea but as usual it is all about implementation and political will. If the code is not binding then it is completely a waste of time. If it is implemented it should have a clear censure for all those who violate it such as disqualification or other stringent measures," said Nkomo.

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