HARARE – The Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) on Thursday laid out what it said were minimum standards for a free and fair election next year.
Party leader Nelson Chamisa said their proposals, known as the Pre-Election Pact on Electoral Reforms (PREPARE), “proffer the solution to Zimbabwe’s quagmire of disputed elections.”
While most of the proposal place demands on constitutional bodies like the Zimbabwe Electoral Authority (ZEC), the Zimbabwe Republic Police and the Council of Chiefs to play by the rules, some would require agreement with Zanu PF to implement through a constitutional amendment, like the right to vote for millions of Zimbabweans in the diaspora.
Chamisa said the CCC’s electoral blueprint would be submitted to ZEC and regional body, SADC, in the hope of securing the reforms ahead of general elections expected in the second half of 2023.
“This document is our humble submission on the discourse on what needs to be corrected. It’s a product of wide consultations with the citizens. We have listened to the voices of war veterans, students, trade unions, traditional leaders and the church,” Chamisa said.
“The 2018 election observer missions and all other critical election bodies have shared this perspective on electoral reforms. It’s unfortunate that as it currently pertains, insufficient work has been done.”
Chamisa said they remained concerned about the composition of ZEC, which has faced accusations of pro-Zanu PF bias.
He said: “The issue of the appointment of commissioners and staff should be purely on merit and competency. All the officials must pass the critical test of integrity, professionalism and independence. You don’t serve a political party, you serve Zimbabwe.
“They must also pass the patriotism test and accountability one, if you look at some of them, they are clearly partisan.”
PREPARE contains seven key demands, classed as the right to vote; a credible voters’ roll; a credible real-time results announcement system; integrity of electoral processes, personnel and polling materials; political freedoms and access to the media; security of the vote and finally safety of the voter.
The CCC wants the vote to be extended to the diaspora, prisoners and civil servants deployed on election duties. The party also wants an audited voters roll before the election and automatic voter registration for Zimbabweans turning 18.
A key demand the CCC is making is that all V11 forms – polling station results – must be posted on a public portal “accessible to all parties and the media” to allow for parallel tabulation.
For some of reforms to be implemented, the CCC must persuade Zanu PF – but lines of communication between the parties remain dead after Chamisa refused to join President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Political Actors Dialogue, through which Zanu PF said all negotiations must take place.
The Supreme Court has ruled that the Electoral Act in section 23 requires that citizens must satisfy the residence qualification, which means that an aspiring voter must be resident in that constituency at the date of his or her claim for registration. Citizens in the diaspora do not satisfy this requirement.
Chief Justice Luke Malaba noted: “Under the Zimbabwean electoral system, a voter votes not only as a citizen of this country but also to protect his or her rights and interests as a resident of the constituency in which he or she is registered.”
Zanu PF is opposed to a diaspora vote, and is likely to shoot down any proposals to amend the constitution.
DOWNLOAD CITIZENS COALITION FOR CHANGE ELECTION BLUEPRINT: PREPARE