The Election Resource Centre (ERC), welcomes appointment of Commissioner Erasmas Makodza as the 2018 Harmonized Elections Commander, to expeditiously address election related violence and intimidation before, during and after the upcoming General Elections. The Herald, 24 April 2018, reported that the ZRP “engaged political parties, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) and other stakeholders to ensure that an environment conducive for holding of peaceful, credible and violence-free elections in the country.”
The development comes in the wake of continued calls by ERC, urging implementation of Section 133 of the Electoral Act to deter politically motivated violence. In a report titled, “From Mhondoro – Mubaira (by-election) to 2018 General Elections: Tracking Improvements to the Electoral Cycle, ERC made the case for implementation of Section 133H and J and has been consistent since then. To this end, ERC wrote to the four institutions mandated under Section 133H and J of the Electoral Act, imploring upon them to execute their mandate during by-elections. The ZRP, ZHRC and the JSC responded to this call and set up shop in the Mwenezi East by-election in April 2017. Following the by-election, ERC wrote to the institutions stating their observations of implementation of Section 133 in Mwenezi East. ERC is therefore particularly pleased with the early implementation before proclamation.
Previous elections in Zimbabwe were marred by violence, intimidation and misinformation which resulted in disputed outcomes. This was exacerbated by implementation of Section 133H and J of the Electoral Act which was erratic, if at all, since the advent of the new Constitution in May 2013. By-elections that were held after the 2013 General Elections were characterised by violence and intimidation especially in rural areas. ERC therefore urges the police command to ensure impartiality, timeous investigation of reported cases, preventative measures and submission of periodic reports to the public.
ERC also applauds the setting up of special courts across the country by the JSC in consultation with the police. It is the ERC’s considered view that full implementation of Section 133H and J of the Electoral Act will go a long way towards establishing sustainable mechanisms for eliminating politically motivated violence across the electoral cycle.
ERC calls upon all responsible authorities to:
- Work together in implementing Section 133 H and J of the Electoral Act.
- Educate citizens on the presence of channels of reporting on election related violence and intimidation.
- Publicly share reports to the Parliament of Zimbabwe to ensure enhanced oversight.
- Immediate coming to the table by the National Prosecution Authority (NPA). Further, the government, through the NPA, must employ more prosecutors for purposes of the 2018 elections to enhance the NPA’s capacity to execute its mandate.
- Institute regulations that guide the working relationship of the Special Investigative Committee while preserving the independence of the ZHRC.