The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) expresses concern over the new dates that have been set by the government for the conducting of the population census and delimitation exercise. The new dates were announced in the latest post Cabinet press briefing, in which the government indicated that the country remains on course to conduct the Census within the prescribed time frame for the 2023 Elections. The actual population census commencing in April 2022, and the results expected in August 2022, paving way for the Constituencies Delimitation in October 2022 (31 December 2022 being the last day allowed for delimitation).
ARRANGEMENT OF SECTIONS PART I PRELIMINARY
1 Short title and date of commencement.
3 General principles of democratic elections.
PART II ZIMBABWE ELECTORAL COMMISSION
5 Corporate status and ancillary power of Commission.
6 Immunity of Commission, Commissioners etc.
7 Additional functions and powers of Commission.
8 Delegation of functions.
A number of media laws were gazetted after the 2018 elections. These include:
(a) Zimbabwe Media Commission Bill,
(b) Freedom of Information Bill, and
(c) Protection of Personal Information Bill.
There are various media laws that are under consideration. While the government has since gazetted the Freedom of Information Bill and the Zimbabwe Media Commission Bill, it is regrettable that the two Bills were generally viewed as a far cry from meeting the country’s constitutional yardsticks as envisaged under Sections 61 and 62 of the Constitution which guarantees freedom of expression, media freedom and access to information.
MISA Zimbabwe is of the view that the Broadcasting Service Act (BSA) “requires extensive amendment” and in addition the government needs “to institute and implement a practical ZBC turnaround strategy that will see the public broadcaster (Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation) produce and broadcast modern, quality and relevant public interest programming” .
The current licensing regime is viewed as prohibitive and service as a barrier to local commercial and private players with interest to take part in Zimbabwe’s media and broadcasting sector. The licensing fees need to be reviewed in line with section 61 (3) of the Constitution which stipulates that Broadcasting and other electronic media of communication have freedom of establishment subject only to State licensing procedures that; (a) are necessary to regulate the airwaves and other forms of signal distribution; and (b) are independent of control by government or by political or commercial interests.
Statutory Instrument 33 or 2008 requires journalist already registered with the Zimbabwe Media Commission to re-register with the ZEC during an election. This makes it expensive for free-lance journalists and media houses to get their journalists accredited to cover elections.
 Misa Zimbabwe State of the media 2019 report < https://zimbabwe.misa.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/13/2020/01/State-of-the-media-report-2019-MISA-Zimbabwe.pdf>
A review high profile cases brought before the judicial courts after the harmonised elections for the 2008, 2013 and 2018 electoral cycles can help us make an assessment of the role that the judiciary has been playing towards the achievement, maintenance and promotion of electoral democracy in Zimbabwe. The judiciary has a role to play in electoral reforms, through adjudication, dispute resolution and recommending legislative and institutional reforms. For Zimbabwe, the judiciary continue to miss, or deliberately evade this important role, thereby proving incapacitated to contribute to meaningful electoral reforms in Zimbabwe.
A general assessment is that the judiciary has not pushed for electoral reforms; they have not caused any meaningful or progressive movement in the quest for comprehensive electoral reforms.
In high profile cases, the judiciary has either shied away from comprehensive adjudication by hiding behind technical, procedural prerequisites instead of seizing the moment to develop jurisprudence for use by Parliament and citizens
 The full list of court cases reviewed can be found in the ZESN research paper entitled “Assessment of the Justice Delivery System and its Contribution to Electoral Reforms in Zimbabwe”.
In the 2018 electoral cycle, the results management system was not altered significantly. Issues from previous electoral cycles remain, including those related transparency, accuracy and verifiability of results.
Persons living with Disabilities (PWDs) are not adequately represented in Parliament. There is provision for two people with disabilities in Senate. The PWDs community recommend that a quarter for PWDs be made mandatory to support an increase in number of PWDs legislators. The seat allocated to PWDs should be spread across all the provinces.
There is need to domesticate the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) which Zimbabwe ratified in 2013, so as to guide efforts by government and other stakeholders’ interventions meant improve PWDs participation in political and public life.
The Constitutional Amendment number 2 proposes adding 10 reserved seats for the youth in the lower house of Parliament. Youth Organisations such as the National Association of Youth Organisations (NAYO) and Youth Empowerment and Transformation Trust (YETT) argue that the youth were not consulted when the government came up with the provisions for youth participation in Constitutional Amendment Number 2. Youth organisations believe the proposed youth seats should come from the existing 210 seats and that;
The ZESN draft political party’s regulation bill has provisions that require political parties to ensure that they are inclusive in terms of making substantive appointment in their respective parties that women, youth and other disadvantaged groups are included in party structures.
On the other hand, Constitutional Amendment Bill number two proposes the extension of quotas for women by an additional 10 years. Women’s groups’ view is proposed extension as inadequate position, and inconsistent with Constitutional provisions. Recommendations from women’s organisations include:
The Zimbabwe Gender Commission is exploring the possibility of sponsoring the Gender Equality Act where all the gender equality provisions can be brought and expressed in a manner that can make the rights enshrined in the Commission justiciable.
In addition to provisions at law that encourage comprehensive deployment of party agents as well as making Multi Party Liaison Committees (MPLCs) a permanent feature around the electoral cycle, ZESN is currently engaged in multiple conversations to solicit input on the feasibility of political party regulation in Zimbabwe. MPLCs are not yet a permanent feature on the country’s electoral landscape, the structures continue to be set up on an adhoc basis.
Assessment for the 2023 election cycle is ongoing. Currently there is no movement on the election administration issues listed above. During the COVID -19 pandemic the ZEC had responded commendably by developing a COVID-19 Policy to guide the work of ZEC during the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately the Policy was not put to the test as the Government, through the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare suspended by-elections indefinitely through the use of Statutory Instrument 225A of 2020.