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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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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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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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).

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25 March 2021 – The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) commends ZEC for adhering to the dictates of the law as espoused in the Electoral Act on the need for continuous voter registration. ZEC announced the resumption of electoral activities through a Press Statement, published in the mainstream media and its social media platforms on Tuesday 23 March 2021.

The Network is however irked by the continued suspension of by-elections without consulting stakeholders. ZESN calls on the ZEC to publicize and implement its COVID-19 Policy on Electoral Activities and outline how the Policy will be used to administer by-elections under COVID-19. Accordingly, selective application of the law by allowing for “some” electoral processes to be conducted at the peril of others is  unendurable given the fact that the continuous suspension of by-elections closes up what is left of the shrinking democratic space and undermines the civil and political entitlements of citizens.

ZESN notes that the umbrella ban on electoral activities issued on 2 January 2021 through the promulgation of Statutory Instrument 10 0f 2021 by the Minister of Health and Child Care which moved Zimbabwe to level 4 from level 2 of the National COVID-19 lockdown affected the voter registration exercise which had resumed during the last quarter of 2020. Voter registration, being a key component of the electoral cycle, has to be conducted on a continuous basis to keep the voter’s roll up to date.

The Network will continue to advocate for the institution of electoral reforms that are key in ensuring the holding of credible and fair electoral processes. Some of these reforms include; strengthening of the ZEC Independence and building trust and confidence; provision of continuous and more robust and inclusive voter education; transparency in key electoral processes delimitation; and representation of Special Groups (women, youth, and people with disabilities) among others.

More so, ZESN will continue to enhance the capacity of youths, women and People with Disabilities to advocate for electoral reforms by 2023 by facilitating sustained engagement between the ZEC and key electoral stakeholders such as political parties, Civil Society Organisations and relevant institutions supporting democracy throughout the electoral cycle. Further, in view of the COVID-19 context; ZESN will prioritize provision of Civic and Voter Education through media campaigns virtually and using radio since physical campaigns cannot be held at the moment mobilizing eligible voters, women, youth, and people with disabilities as well as marginalized groups to register to vote and if need be to transfer their registration. The move is meant to ensure enhanced and informed citizens’ participation in the voter registration exercise.

The government of Zimbabwe must not negate its obligation to adequately fund the Electoral Commission and to institute the necessary reforms to meet the constitutional benchmarks and regionally and internationally agreed standards.///ENDS


ZESN Chairperson: +263772234891

ZESN Acting Director: +26377219462

+263 (242) 791443, 798193, 791803, 250736

zesn2011@zesn.net, info@zesn.net

Facebook: ZESN1


Website: www.zesn.org.zw