HARARE – The Electoral Resource Centre (ERC) has launched the second edition of its electoral barometer to gauge the country’s state of preparedness ahead of the general elections that are expected to be held anytime next year, TellZim News has learnt.
Speaking at the close of a Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) workshop last week, ERC director Tawanda Chimhini said the barometer was an indicator of four specific elements namely voter registration, voter education, access to the media and the nature of the political environment since the disputed 2013 elections.
“Using local and regional feedback, we have been making an assessment of the electoral process to see if there is progress being made and up to 18 sticking issues have been identified. We are primarily focusing on the pre-election phase of the election cycle and our view is that we are still below half with regards to what is expected.
“On the question of voter registration, we understand that the law says it should be a continuous process but we also know that it has not been conducted in a continuous manner. There are however things that have happened since the 2013 election regarding the voter registration process.
“The barometer tests some of the things that have happened against the principles of voter registration so we are questioning the integrity of the processes, their accessibility, credibility as well as their legality. So voter education and voter registration are some of the key elements we assess,” said Chimhini.
He revealed that the barometer also measures access to public media using international best practices as the benchmark but the results, he said, have so far been disappointing.
“We also do consider what has been happening in terms of the political environment ahead of the next elections and in light of the various by-elections that have happened.
“There is fear in communities; partisan distribution of resources relating to politics, freedom of expression is not as guaranteed as it should be and state institutions that should be regulating the conduct of political parties pertaining to the election process are not discharging their constitutional mandate in a manner that reflects a positive political environment ahead of the elections.
“Our fear is that in terms of preparedness for elections, we are falling far short; we are in fact below the average. The expectation is therefore that this barometer will be an instrument that we can collectively use to begin engaging responsible authorities and say we are holding you accountable; you can’t say we are holding elections if you have not started looking at these things.
“The barometer is an instrument that we hope stakeholders will find useful and use in their engagement efforts to ensure that we improve the quality of our election processes ahead of the 2018 elections. Our argument is that there is no room for us to even accept any recommendation for an early election in Zimbabwe,” Chimhini said.local