Africa Day: ZESN emphasises importance of regular, free and fair elections


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The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) joined the rest of the African continent in celebrating the 60th anniversary of Africa Day running under the theme “Acceleration of African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) implementation.” Annual Africa Day’s Celebrations can be traced back to the formation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) now African Union on 25 May 1963 in Ethiopia.

The electoral body said the aim of Africa Day is to mirror changes, revel the sovereignty of African countries as well as encourage political and economic integration among Member States.

In recognition of the importance of democracy, African governments adopted the African Charter on Democracy, Elections, and Governance (ACDEG). Article 2 (3) of the ACDEG accentuates the significance of ‘regular free and fair elections to institutionalize legitimate authority of representative government as well as democratic change of governments’. ACDEG also seeks to ‘promote best practices in the management of elections for purposes of political stability and good governance’ and to ensure ‘effective participation of citizens in democratic and development processes and in governance of public affairs’.

“As Zimbabwe readies for the 2023 harmonised elections, the Network implores the government to implement electoral reforms in line with the dictates of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (ACDEG) which it ratified in 2022.

“The Charter sets standards for better governance across Africa by promoting and emphasizing on good governance, popular participation, rule of law and human rights. It also speaks strongly against ‘unconstitutional changes of governments’ and encourages ‘change of power based on the holding of regular, free, fair and transparent elections conducted by competent, independent, and impartial national electoral bodies.’ Further, the Charter encourages State Parties to adopt and implement sustainable development policies, promote transparency in public sector management, and create conducive conditions for Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to exist and operate within the law,” ZESN said in a statement.

ZESN reiterated that the implementation of electoral reforms in the spirit of the ACDEG is essential for improving and consolidating the quality of democracy, elections, and governance in Zimbabwe.

Some of these reforms include; the need to create a conducive electoral environment that will see the effective participation of citizens without fear; availing of the Voter’s Roll; the implementation of the 50/50 mechanism as provided for in the Constitution; clearly outlining the Women and Youth Quotas; the need for tactile ballot papers to ensure secrecy of the vote; the inclusion of young people in Provincial Councils; a review of the accreditation fees and opening up the space to allow long term observation by domestic observers; the need to ensure there are punitive measures are put in place to address the violence that affects women’s participation in politics and elections and the setting up of the Integrity and Ethics Committee to deal with the misdemeanors of Traditional Leaders in elections.

“The Network believes that reviewing outstanding electoral administration issues and promotion of peace before, during, and after elections will lead to free, fair, and credible elections in Zimbabwe,” ZESN added.