Judicial Service Commission to host a regional symposium on Electoral Justice

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready…

Staff Writer

The Judicial Service Commission is delighted to announce that it will be hosting a regional symposium on Electoral Justice at Elephant Hills Resort, Victoria Falls from January 31 to February 2, 2024. Organised by the Africa Electoral Justice Network (AEJN), the symposium runs under the theme: “Making the Dream of the African Charter a Reality: The Role of the Judiciary in Upholding the Rule of Law with specific reference to Free, Fair, and Credible Elections in Africa”. It aims to bring together distinguished judges, legal experts, and scholars from across the region to deliberate on key issues surrounding electoral processes and the role of the judiciary in ensuring free, fair, and transparent elections.

The symposium will serve as a platform for sharing experiences, best practices, and innovative approaches to electoral justice among the participating nations. It will provide an opportunity for judges to engage in insightful discussions, exchange knowledge, and strengthen cooperation in this critical area. We have extended invitations to 50 esteemed judges from various jurisdictions within the region. Their presence and active participation will contribute significantly to the success of this symposium. The event will feature keynote addresses, panel discussions, workshops, and interactive sessions, enabling participants to explore emerging challenges and identify effective strategies for addressing them.

The chosen venue, Victoria Falls, renowned for its natural beauty and cultural significance, offers an ideal setting for this important gathering. Delegates will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in an atmosphere conducive to productive dialogue and networking. The Judicial Service Commission is committed to promoting the rule of law and upholding the independence of the judiciary. By organizing this symposium, we aim to foster a deeper understanding of electoral justice principles and enhance the capacity of judges to adjudicate election-related disputes with fairness, impartiality, and expertise. We extend our gratitude to all the participants, sponsors, and partners who have generously supported this initiative. Their commitment to the cause of electoral justice reinforces our collective goal of strengthening democratic processes within the region. We look forward to welcoming the distinguished judges and esteemed guests to the regional symposium on Electoral Justice in Victoria Falls. Together, we will strive to advance the principles of justice, democracy, and good governance.

The Africa Electoral Justice Network (AEJN), to which Zimbabwe is a member, is a regional forum that brings together judges and individuals who adjudicate electoral disputes in courts, tribunals, and judicial election management bodies from across the African continent. It presents such a germane opportunity for the consideration of such issues. The AEJN was established to facilitate peer-to-peer knowledge exchange among a diverse and inclusive group of election arbiters. It aims to provide peer support for election judges and arbiters dealing with politically sensitive and challenging disputes and violations, strengthen the capacity of Election Monitoring Bodies and the judiciary to resolve electoral cases and disputes, and help entrench and apply norms across the region. In addition, it offers an opportunity to reflect on a growing body of regional jurisprudence and discuss emerging challenges in election litigation – such as the use of electronic evidence related to election technology and court-annexed mediation.

As Africa continues on its trajectory of deepening democratisation, good governance, observance of the rule of law, and respect for human rights for more inclusive societies, sustainable peace, security, and development, it is important that intentional interventions are needed to strengthen electoral justice systems and enhance the quality of democratic elections on the continent. The African Union states that “Democratic elections are the basis of the authority of any representative government [and that] regular elections constitute a key element of the democratization process and therefore, are essential ingredients for good governance, the rule of law, the maintenance and promotion of peace, security, stability and development

The promotion, nurturing, strengthening, and consolidation of democracy, are fundamental issues that call for regional dialogue amongst and between persons and bodies that are involved in the promotion of electoral justice. This Symposium will offer judges an opportunity for an experiential exchange of ideas and learning from each other as well as bestow the Network an opportunity to regularise its business.

The Symposium follows the inaugural Africa Regional Electoral Justice Network conference in Johannesburg South Africa, held in April 2019, and the follow-up in-person Symposium held from 19 to 20 July 2022 in Malawi under the theme “Judges on the Frontline of African Democracy – Enhancing the Electoral Dispute Adjudication Process”.