Ballot Newsletter-Issue 01

THERE are concerns that the civil and voter registration drive may be derailed ahead of the 2023 Harmonized elections if authorities fail to find a lasting solution to machine breakdowns at the Civil Registry.

The Civil Registry was forced to suspend the issuance of e-passports sometime in August 2022 following a major machine breakdown.

There are also reports of frequent breakdown of machines used for the processing of identity documents needed for voter registration.

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PRELIMINARY STATEMENT ON THE 17 DECEMBER 2022 MUTASA NORTH RDC WARD 6 LOCAL AUTHORITY BY-ELECTIONS

In line with its mission to promote democratic free and fair electoral processes through objectively and impartially observing elections in Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) observed Mutasa Rural District Council (RDC) Ward 6 Local Authority by-elections conducted on 17 December 2022. The by-election in which the ruling party won, was held after a vacancy arose in Ward 6 of Mutasa RDC following the death of Councillor Stephen Kavhuru of the MDC-Alliance.

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ZESN SITUATIONAL STATEMENT ON THE WARD 6 MUTASA NORTH RURAL DISTRICT COUNCIL LOCAL AUTHORITY BY-ELECTIONS

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) has deployed four (4) static observers and four (4) mobile observers to observe local authority by-elections in Ward 6 of Mutasa South Rural District Council (RDC). Section 121 A of the Electoral Act Chapter 2:13) provides for the filling of vacancies that arise in councils. A vacancy arose in
Ward 6 of Mutasa South RDC following the death of Councillor Stephen Kavhuru who secured victory on the MDC-Alliance ticket in 2018.

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ZESN SITUATIONAL STATEMENT ON THE GWERU MUNICIPALITY WARDS 4, 5 & 18 AND BINGA RURAL DISTRICT COUNCIL WARD 20 LOCAL AUTHORITY BY-ELECTIONS

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) has deployed seventeen (17) static observers and three (3) mobile observers to observe local authority by-elections in Binga Rural District Council (RDC) Ward 20 and Gweru Municipality Wards 4, 5 and 18. The law, particularly Section 121 A of the Electoral Act (Chapter 2:13) provides for the filling of vacancies that arise in councils. Vacancies arose in Binga RDC Ward 20 and Gweru Municipality Wards 4, 5 and 18 following the recall of sitting councillors by the Movement for Democratic Change –Tsvangirai (MDC–T).

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ZESN STATEMENT ON THE ELECTORAL AMENDMENT BILL

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) expresses concern over the scope of the proposed changes that are contained in the recently gazetted Electoral Amendment Bill. The gazetted Bill which seeks to amend the Electoral Act [Chapter2:13] proposes the removal of the driver’s license as proof of identity for electoral purposes; seeks to disqualify previously convicted persons from contesting in elections and provides a timeframe (21 days) when a candidate may withdraw from contesting in a National Assembly or local authority elections. The Bill also provides for the incorporation of the youth quota in the National Assembly and the women’s quota in local authorities which are both products of the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 2) Act, 2019.

ZESN believes that the Bill addresses nominal and administrative reforms whilst ignoring pertinent reforms that may have a direct bearing on the transparency and credibility of elections in Zimbabwe.

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REPORT ON THE 22 OCTOBER 2022 LOCAL AUTHORITY BY-ELECTIONS

Election observation is imperative in the gathering of information regarding an electoral process, to assess whether the electoral process was conducted in accordance with the laws of the country, regional or international principles, standards and best practices. The information gathered provides an impartial and accurate appraisal of the electoral
environment and recommendations for improving electoral processes.

As part of its efforts to promote democratic elections in Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) deployed trained observers to observe Local Authority by-elections on 22 October 2022 in Buhera Rural District Council (RDC) Ward 24, Guruve RDC Ward 4, Insiza RDC Ward 4, Matobo RDC Ward 2, Mutare Municipality Ward 18 and Takawira RDC Ward 6. The by-elections were held in accordance with Section 121 A of the Electoral Act (Chapter 2:13) following the passing on of councillors Saimon Chingwidze (ZANU-PF) of Ward 24 Buhera RDC; Tom Moyo (ZANU-PF) of Ward 2 Matobo RDC, Kudakwashe Chisango (MDC-A) of Ward 18 Mutare Municipality; Lencio Kafungura (ZANU-PF) of Ward 4 Guruve RDC, Johanes Kohli (ZANU-PF) of Takawira Ward 6 RDC and Lawrence Maphosa (ZANU-PF) of Insiza Ward 4 RDC.

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PRELIMINARY STATEMENT ON THE 22 OCTOBER 2022 SIX LOCAL AUTHORITY BY-ELECTIONS

In the spirit of promoting democratic elections in Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) observed Local Authority by-elections on 22 October, 2022 in Buhera Rural District Council (RDC) Ward 24, Guruve RDC Ward 4, Insiza RDC Ward 4, Matobo RDC Ward 2, Mutare Municipality Ward 18 and Takawira RDC Ward 6. The by-elections in which the ruling party retained 5 out of 6 local authority seats were held against a background of violence which marred the electoral credibility of Ward 2 of Matobo RDC, Ward 4 of Insiza and Takawira Ward 6. The three Wards were heavily manned by the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) security details as part of efforts to maintain law and order given the toxic political tensions that were rife during the campaign period. A few instances of electoral malpractices were observed at Takawira where ZANU-PF is reported to have mounted a campaign desk within the vicinity of the polling station.

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ZESN SITUATIONAL STATEMENT ON THE 22 OCTOBER 2022 LOCAL AUTHORITY BYELECTIONS

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) has deployed 15 static observers and four (4) mobile observers in six (6) Local Authority by-elections which are; Buhera Rural District Council (RDC) Ward 24; Guruve RDC Ward 4; Insiza RDC Ward 4; Matobo RDC Ward 2; Takawira (RDC) Ward 6 and Mutare Municipality Ward 18. The vacancies arose following the death of Councillors Saimon Chingwidze (ZANU-PF) of Ward 24 Buhera RDC; Tom Moyo (ZANU-PF) of Ward 2 Matobo RDC, Kudakwashe Chisango (MDC-A) of Ward 18 Mutare Municipality; Lencio Kafungura (ZANU-PF) of Ward 4 Guruve RDC, Johanes Kohli (ZANU-PF) of Takawira Ward 6 RDC and Lawrence Maphosa (ZANU-PF) of Insiza Ward 4 RDC.

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ZIMBABWE CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS 2022 – 2024 ELECTION STRATEGY

The Civil Society Elections Cluster (CSEC) strategy, 2017 to 2019, emerged from a broad consultative process that brought together Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in Zimbabwe working in the arena of democracy and governance. It is premised on the realization that while efforts at ensuring an effective oversight of the the electoral process by individual organizations has traction, there is, regrettably, a dearth in deliberate coordination of various Civil Society Actors to coalesce around unified electoral oversight strategy.

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FOSTER PEACE AHEAD OF THE 2023 ELECTIONS TO ENHANCE ELECTORAL INTEGRITY

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) implores political party leaders and their supporters to foster peace ahead of the 2023 harmonized elections. The call comes against the prevailing toxic political environment which has been characterized by a spate of inter-party as well as intra-party violence that occurred in Matobo and Insiza. These violent clashes have the potential to adversely affect the participation in democratic electoral processes of the electorate, particularly vulnerable groups.

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