The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) implores electoralstakeholders to foster peace ahead of the March 26 by-elections and 2023 harmonized elections. The network is deeply concerned about the recent spate of inter-party as well as intra-party violence that occurred which taints the credibility of electoral processes.

The recent violent clashes have a potential to adversely affect the turnout of citizens on the ongoing voter registration exercise as violence impacts negatively on the participation in electoral processes especially of women and people with disabilities. Political and electoral related violence undermines civil and political rights and affects citizens’ right to compete in electoral processes. Also; it erodes trust in democratic processes as well as
undermines the quality of democracy thereby, limiting inclusive participation.

Furthermore, acts of violence often lead to voter apathy, especially among women and people with disabilities which in turn defeats the desired 50/50 approach to gender balance in electoral processes and leadership positions.

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ERC & ZESN Deploy Observers for 2022 Voter Registration Blitz and Provides Analysis of Phase 1 List of Registration Centres


As part of their commitment to support democratic development and promote credible, transparent,
and accountable electoral processes in Zimbabwe, the Election Resource Centre (ERC) and Zimbabwe
Election Support Network (ZESN) are observing the voter registration blitz on an independent and
nonpartisan basis for all Zimbabweans. The joint observation effort will provide citizens and key
stakeholders with accurate, timely, and credible information on the voter registration blitz.

ERC/ZESN Methodology

In order to gather factual and verifiable information on the conduct of the 2022 voter registration blitz,
ERC and ZESN deployed one volunteer per constituency who will observe periodically throughout
the entire voter registration process and provide weekly reports on the political environment. These
individuals were carefully recruited from local communities following a strict criterion and adhering
to gender balance. These observers underwent a thorough training program on the conduct of the voter
registration process, direction on what to observe, and when to report during the voter registration
period. Additionally, while at the training observers signed a code of conduct acknowledging that they
were non-partisan. ZESN and ERC will release periodic reports on the inclusivity, transparency and
accountability of the voter registration blitz.

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The Zambia general elections held on 12 August 2021 were the seventh since the reintroduction of multiparty democracy in 1991. Hakainde Hichilema, President of the United Party for National Development (UPND) emerged the victor for the Presidential seat. This was the sixth time for Hichilema to contest as a presidential candidate and the third time in a row where he was contesting against Dr. Edgar Lungu. Hichilema won by a margin of 59.4% of the votes cast while the President of the Patriotic Front (PF), President Lungu received 38.3% of the votes and was seeking a second term.

Following the invitation from the Zambian Government, and during the period leading to the elections, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) deployed a learning observation mission which was accredited by the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) to observe the polling day processes and those at the National Results Centre. The ZESN Team comprised of three observers drawn from the ZESN board, the secretariat, and a representative of the ZESN provincial taskforce. To enhance the ZESN Team’s understanding of the socio-economic and political contexts as well as election-related procedures and processes, the Team interacted with various stakeholders’ mostly domestic election observer groups, media, and civil society organizations in Zambia.

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As the World celebrates International Human Rights Day today, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) implores all stakeholders to uphold fundamental human rights as they are integral to all human beings regardless of their nationality or gender. This is provided for in Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) – “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” International Day of Human Rights commemorates the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) by the United Nations General Assembly on December 10, 1948. ‘Human rights’ refer to basic rights or freedoms that include people’s right to live, health, and education, freedom of speech and thoughts as well as equal rights.

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The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has postponed the Mobile Voter Registration which was scheduled to commence on 6 December 2021 to February 2022, after realising that the Registrar General’s Office is currently not in a position to issue out national identity cards (IDs), citing lack of resources. ZEC has said that it cannot conduct its massive voter registration blitz, unless and until eligible voters have acquired national identity cards (IDs), which are a prerequisite for voter registration. Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) implores government to resource the Civil Registry in order to empower it to conduct an inclusive exercise of issuing national identity cards to eligible citizens.

Voting is a democratic right which only those who are registered to vote can enjoy. A national ID or valid passport is a requirement for one to be able to register to vote. Young people, citizens who lost IDs and those who have become eligible have been finding it difficult to get the IDs, threatening their disenfranchisement in electoral processes. Given that young people constitute the biggest demographic group in Zimbabwe, their participation in elections is critical as democracy is essentially about the participation of the majority.

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The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) is concerned about the continued suspension of by-elections in light of the observations made regarding religious, political and social gatherings around the country. The Network observed that, recently, there has been a hive of activity with multitudes of congregates at religious or church gatherings and camps in Zimbabwe where concern about protecting peoples’ health does not seem to have been given equal weight as in the suspension of by-elections.

The opening up of businesses, schools, restaurants, and bars; the recent elections in Zambia and the ongoing local government elections in neighboring South Africa in the context of Covid-19, are a clear indication that by-elections can be held under strict Covid-19 protocols.

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The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) has been tracking progress by the government in the implementation of electoral reforms premised on recommendations proffered by local, regional and international Election Observer Missions (EOMs) to the 2018 harmonized elections. Notably, parliament passed and the President assented to the Constitutional Amendment Number 2, which extended the women’s quota in the National Assembly for another ten (10) years, introduced a 30 percent women’s quota in local government, and provided for a quota for ten (10) youths in the National Assembly on a party-list basis and five (5) female youths within the current women’s quota.

While Constitutional Amendment Number 2 extended the women’s quota for another 10 years, introduced a 30 percent women’s quota in local government, ZESN is of the view that, notably this amounts to a change, however it is unlikely that gender parity will be attained in the 2023 elections based on this electoral framework. Concerning youth participation, the Amendment now provides for a youth quota system. While the constitutional change guarantees some youthful representatives in the National Assembly, it appears that the number of representatives provided for in the Amendment was not informed by a scientific approach or meaningful consultations with the affected youth. The quota is at odds with population demographics and official voter registration and participation statistics. Further, whereas the Amendment mentioned People with Disabilities (PwDs), it was short on details for implementation. The Zimbabwe Gender Commission adopted a Gender and Inclusion Policy, while it is a positive development, it cannot be enforced as law.

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Electoral Reforms Tracking Report Web

ZESN has been tracking the progress of the implementation of recommendations which were proffered by Election Observer Missions (EOMs) to the 2018 harmonized elections. ZESN noted that the government has made a few strides regards the implementation of electoral reforms premised on recommendations proffered on legal developments; women’s participation; youth participation; and media from the period after the 2018 harmonized elections up to July 2021. Some of the reforms include the passing of Constitutional Amendment Number 2, constitutional provisions relating to elections.

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As we celebrate the International Day of Peace, running under this year’s theme, “Recovering better for an equitable and sustainable world,’ the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) implores all stakeholders to engage and work together in fostering peace building initiatives to ensure sustainable peace and development in the country.

The International Day of Peace or Peace Day is observed around the World annually on 21 September. Established in 1981 by unanimous United Nations resolution, Peace Day provides a globally shared date for all humanity to commit to Peace above all differences and to contribute to building a Culture of Peace.

As Zimbabwe joins the rest of the world in commemorating this special day, ZESN strongly believes that Peace can be sustained through a multi-stakeholder approach and appreciation of the unique roles each stakeholder plays.

The Network calls for the strengthening of the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) and the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC), Faith Based Organizations (FBOs), Civic Society Organizations (CSOs), Community Based Organizations (CBOs), Education Institutions, political parties and the media as they are critical stakeholders to fostering a culture of peace and tolerance in the society.

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The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) joins Zimbabwe and the World at large in commemorating the International Day of Democracy on this 15th day of September 2021 running under the theme, “Strengthening democratic resilience in the face of future crises.” Democracy Day is celebrated annually to review the state of democracy in the world and uphold and promote democracy and its principles.

The United Nations defines democracy as a state where the people have rights, especially to vote for and elect their government and regulation from among themselves, rather than being controlled by a government over whom they have no right of dissent, election or protest. Lack of democracy can lead to lack of rights or a voice, and this impacts on human rights as set out by the UN.

This day comes amid the battle with the COVID-19 pandemic which has led to fatalities, surge in infections and the closure of so many multi-sectoral spaces. Democracy has also suffered a huge blow especially in Zimbabwe; with the indefinite suspension of by-elections and other electoral activities. This has led to the quarantining of democracy and prevention of equal participation of citizens in democratic electoral and governance processes.

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