Zimbabwe: 2019 By-Elections - a Cocktail of Reforms and Non-Compliance With the Law

8 November 2019

The Election Resource Centre (ERC), a think tank and advocacy organization working on elections notes that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) managed to conduct all by elections when they were due between August 2018 and October 2019.

In assessing all conducted House of Assembly by-elections conducted, ERC sought to review implementation of key electoral processes in the context of recommendations for reforms as proposed by invited and accredited domestic and international observers to the 2018 harmonised elections.

As noted in the ERC's election report, by-elections provide a platform to implement reforms, to test the effectiveness of reforms and to review how best to improve future elections.

The assessment was undertaken through reviews of preparations for the by-elections, testing the conduct of electoral processes against legal provisions and engagement with voters, election civil society organisations, political parties and officials from the ZEC.

From the reviews, the ERC noted a mixed bag of findings ranging from progressive reforms to incidences of non compliance with legal provisions relating to how elections should be conducted. It was encouraging to see ZEC undertake some reforms in response to the feedback received through the 2018 election observer reports. It was however unfortunate that ZEC failed to fully comply with legal provisions relating to a number of key election processes.

The ERC noted that the conduct of by-elections during the assessment period was not improved in any way by a legal framework that remained unchanged since the 2018 harmonised elections.

Consequently, while by-elections assessed were not heavily contested, their overall credibility remained largely questionable owing to the same inadequacies that were noted by observers to the 2018 elections and not addressed.

While it can be argued that reforms take time to implement, the ERC contends that administrative reforms can be implemented through a consultative process between the ZEC and election stakeholders. All that is needed is the political will.

Source: Election Resource Centre (ERC)

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