Following the 2018 Harmonised elections, ZESN compiled a Compendium of election observers’ recommendations. The Compendium reviews the legislative and electoral framework against the Zimbabwean Constitution, regional and international principles and standards governing the conduct of democratic elections.

The compendium brings to the fore 223 recommendations that were proffered by the various local, regional, and international Election Observer Missions (EOMs) that observed the July 30 2018 harmonized elections. Of the 223 recommendations, 115 have been streamlined to cover several themes including; electoral and legislative framework, election administration, media coverage, the conduct of civic and voter education, holding of inclusive elections, polling, election observation, results management and electoral justice.

ZESN continues to advocate for sustained discussions on the recommendations and is continually engaging Parliament, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), other Chapter 12 Commissions, political parties, members of the public and other electoral stakeholders so as to encourage improved uptake of recommendations which stakeholders collectively deem applicable to the Zimbabwean environment. These engagements were largely done in face to face meetings. However since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, the meetings have been held using mostly virtual platforms such as ZOOM, Microsoft Teams and Skype.

Further to the Compendium, ZESN petitioned the Parliament of Zimbabwe on 3 December 2018 to support the comprehensive review of the Electoral Act.  Subsequently, ZESN shared with Parliament a draft Comprehensive Electoral Amendment Bill for Parliament’s consideration. The draft Amendment Bill was developed with extensive consultation and input from various stakeholders and also incorporated some of the progressive provisions from the SADC Model Law on elections

The analysis made in this report is informed by literature review, Inter-Ministerial Taskforce on the Alignment of Legislation to the Constitution’s (IMT)[1] bill tracker, meetings with the ZESN Provincial and National Taskforces, Cluster meetings[2], contributions and presentations on ZESN virtual public meetings, feedback from radio programmes and workshops with various civil society organisations whose programming covers some of the themes discussed in the Petition to Parliament. Internal Electoral Political Economy Analysis by ZESN’s strategic apex (Board), secretariat and members through taskforces, also contributed to the analysis.

This report utilised colour codes to illustrate whether there has been improvement on any of the challenges highlighted under the 15 themes included in the ZESN 2018 Petition to Parliament.  The themes are listed below:

Electoral Petition Themes
i. The Legal Framework

ii. The Political Environment

iii. Voter Registration and the Voters’ Roll

iv. The Provision of Voter Education

v. The Right to Vote and Inclusivity

vi. Election Observation

vii. Delimitation of Constituencies

viii. Election Administration

ix. Political Parties

x. Women

xi. Youth

xii. Persons with Disability

xiii. Election Day and Results Management

xiv. Election Dispute Resolution

xv. Media and Elections


[1] The IMT was set up in 2015 to co-ordinate the process of alignment of all legislation with Zimbabwe’s Constitution.

[2] Thematic Cluster meetings are held with organisation outside the ZESN membership whose programming falls along various themes such as advocacy for electoral reform. 1

  • The independence of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) is provided for under Section 235 of the Constitution. Provisions of the Electoral Law that offend this principle must be reviewed. These include sections 192(6) and (12) of the Electoral Act, which permit Executive interference with the ZEC.
  • Pursuant to its signature of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (ACDEG) in February 2018, Zimbabwe should proceed to give life to the Charter through its domestication and implementation.


  • The Electoral Act does not empower ZEC to make and approve electoral regulations. ZEC still needs get approval from the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs for the Commission to introduce regulations for use by the institution’s staff. Read More

  • There is need for an enabling political environment, which supports the holding of free, fair and credible elections.
  • Statutes as the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) and the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) reinforces the existing political environment.
  • There is need for an enforceable Electoral Code of Conduct for traditional leaders so as to ensure that Traditional leaders discharge their duties in a non-partisan manner.


The political environment remains in a state of flux, and unconducive to the holding of credible elections. The conflation of the state and ruling party continues to deepen as recently illustrated by the range of elaborate strategies that the party in government has employed to weaken the main opposition political party. The strategy includes co-optation, repression and legitimation.  For instance, on 17 May 2019, the government launched the Political Actors Dialogue (POLAD), which comprised some of the parties that contested the 2018 presidential elections. Read More

  • The Electoral Law must compel ZEC to inform registrants who are removed from the voters’ roll.
  • Those put on the exclusion list must be notified, and there must be a less cumbersome process for redress.
  • Access to the final voters’ roll must be guaranteed for all contestants as provided by law, and within a specific time-frame.
  • Ease of registration in urban areas in view of the lowest registration statistics in Harare and Bulawayo in particular, and in urban areas in general.
  • There should be more permanent registration centres established and these should be open throughout the electoral cycle.
  • Copies of the roll must be availed to party agents at polling stations.
  • There is need for procurement of integrated systems that allow one gadget to be used for multiple purposes, such as enrolling voters, voter verification on Election Day and transmission of results.
  • The law must provide for the publication of the results of the de-duplication process to enhance transparency. ZEC must focus on continuous voter registration and cleaning of the voters’ roll. Read More

  • Voter Education (VE) should be linked to the secrecy of the ballot and other misinformation by electoral stakeholders.
  • VE should reach institutions of higher learning and secondary schools, and target those have reached/about to reach the legal age of majority.
  • VE must emphasise the importance of other elections, apart from presidential elections.
  • The VE methodology and curriculum must facilitate easy access by people with disabilities including those visually impaired.
  • Electoral Law must provide for continuous voter education by a broad range of actors that include the ZEC and Civic Society Organisations (CSOs). Read More

The Constitution grants every Zimbabwean the right to vote. This the Electoral Law does not give life to, as it excludes millions in the Diaspora, remand prison and hospital. In keeping with the thrust of the new dispensation to include citizens in the Diaspora in national development, the selective inclusion of Zimbabweans in the Diaspora and those in places of confinement and hospitals must be reviewed. This also includes citizens’ hospital staff, nurses and doctors who will be on duty on Election Day. The expansion of special voting must be considered to cater for these groups. Read More

The ZESN Petition notes that the structure of the Observer Accreditation Committee must be reviewed in keeping with the principle of the independence of the Commission.

Assessment: The observer accreditation process must be managed by the ZEC, any consultations with the security services should be done on the side-lines.  However this needs to be provided for at law. Read More

Zimbabwe has conducted three sets of elections[1] on the basis of one set of delimitation. 2008, 2013 and 2018 elections. Boundary delimitation for the 2023 elections should be timeously conducted. There is need to rationalise constituencies that are too big and those that are too small. Clear regulations for delimitation must be put in place.


Assessment:  There been significant improvement in the area of legislation that has an impact on the boundary delimitation process. The government accented to the Census and Statistics Amendment Bill of 2020. Read More

  • There is need to mitigate conflict and suspicions around the ballot paper by ensuring transparency in ballot paper designing and printing through engagement of electoral stakeholders. It is also critical that the implementation of postal voting abides by the principles of free choice and secrecy of the vote contained in the Constitution and the Electoral Law. Special voting, amenable to transparent electoral principles and observation must be reinstated to guarantee the right to vote to those unable to vote on Election Day.
  • The observation of electoral processes must be made easier by removing accreditation fees and the requirement for applicants to physical present themselves in person at accreditation centres in line with international best practice. Read More

  • Parties should be compelled by law to comprehensively deploy polling agents to observe key electoral processes. There is also need to regulate political parties. The legal framework must provide for the disclosure and audits of parties’ sources of funding and the use of campaign funding.
  • Multi-party Liaison Committees must made permanent features of the electoral cycle.

Assessment: 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. Read More

  • Appropriate provisions must be made that make it mandatory for political parties to observe quotas for women. There must be gender parity, backed by law, in all decision-making positions and institutions.

Assessment: 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. Read More

  • The legal framework must provide for youth participation as voters, candidates and as decision-makers.

Assessment: 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.  Read More

  • ZEC must ensure mechanisms are put in place to facilitate voting by people with disabilities that guarantee the secrecy of the vote. Polling stations must be accessible to persons with disability.

Assessment: 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. Read More

  • The legal framework must be reviewed to ensure a more transparent results transmission system where presidential results from each polling station are transmitted directly to the national results collation centre. Any changes to the results should be made in the presence of observers and political party agents. ZEC should consider the total valid votes cast rather than the total votes cast in the counting of election votes and avoid errors that may necessitate the revision of announced results.
  • Further, ZEC must invest in a real time results transmission system. ZEC must pursue an open data policy that includes the prompt display of election result forms at polling stations for each polling station, disaggregated by demographic variables and post those forms on its website. Read More

  • The legal framework must put in place other dispute resolution mechanisms to ensure the peaceful resolution of election related disputes throughout the electoral cycle, including dealing with cases of post-election retribution. Independent commissions should be strengthened, especially the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) and the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) to effectively execute their respective roles in electoral matters. Electoral petitions must be time-framed in the Electoral Law. The judiciary must be compelled to avail full judgments within a specified period. Read More

  • Enforceable legal provisions on the regulation of the media reportage of elections must be enacted, and implemented, particularly for the state media.
  • The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Authority (ZBA) must be transformed into a truly independent institution that effectively and impartially regulates public, private and community broadcasters.
  • ZEC media monitoring must be timely and effective. It must put in place effective mechanisms to ensure compliance. The ZEC media monitoring report must be shared widely. Read More