25 February 2013

Zimbabwe: ZEC Invites Observers to Apply

Photo: IRIN
Hope in Harare.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has started taking applications from individuals and organisations who want to observe the forthcoming referendum next month. This comes at a time the electoral body has also begun training voter education supervisors and district election officers who will monitor voter education exercises countrywide.

The country will hold a constitutional referendum on March 16.

Acting Zec chairperson Mrs Joyce Kazembe said all applications, foreign or local, would be considered by the Commission's Observer Accreditation Committee.

The committee would then recommend to Zec the persons or organisations to be approved for accreditation.

"According to the electoral law the committee is chaired by the Zec chairperson and the deputy chairperson is also a member together with a Commissioner," she said.

"Other members will include representatives from the Ministries of Justice and Legal Affairs, Foreign Affairs, Home Affairs mainly the immigration department. This is the committee which looks at all the applications and makes recommendations."

Zec chief elections officer Mr Lovemore Sekeremayi said applications to be considered for accreditation include those from individuals representing foreign countries or international organisations and foreign eminent persons who would have applied to be accepted as observers.

"Individuals representing local organisations and eminent persons from within Zimbabwe who have applied to be accepted as observers will have their applications considered," he said.

"Also for consideration are applications from individuals representing bodies that exercise functions similar to those of the Commission and that have been invited by the Commission to observe an election."

Mr Sekeramayi said applications would also include those of people representing foreign countries and international organisations and foreign eminent persons who would have been invited by the Minister of Foreign Affairs to observe an election.

He said local organisations and eminent persons from within Zimbabwe who would have been invited by the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs would also be considered for accreditation.

"An application for the accreditation as an observer must be made to the chief election officer by the individual or eminent person who wishes to be accredited or the organisation that wishes its representatives to be accredited or the Minister responsible for Justice and Legal Affairs or the Minister responsible for Foreign Affairs in respect of individuals whom the Minister concerned has invited to observe the referendum," Mr Sekeramayi said.

"An application for the accreditation must state the names of individuals whom the organisation or Minister wishes to have accredited."

On the training of voter education supervisors and district election officers, Mr Sekeramayi said it would be done in all the 10 provinces in preparation for the referendum and subsequently elections.

Training covers various aspects of the referendum, methods of disseminating voter information, communication and code of conduct for voter educators," he said.

He said the training was being conducted by Zec provincial election officers and staff.

"The next level of training will involve the voter educators at all district centres before immediate deployment in all wards across the country in a few days' time," he said.

The referendum next month will bring to finality the constitution making process that began four years ago and gobbled over US$50 million.

The process took long because of bickering among the political parties who have since agreed to campaign for a 'Yes' Vote.

Copac, a Parliament Committee, which spearheaded the drafting of the new constitution, is holding campaigns countrywide to familiarise the people with the new supreme law.

After the referendum, harmonised elections would follow to end the inclusive government formed in 2009 following an inconclusive poll the previous year.

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