ELECTION Resource Centre (ERC) has blamed authorities for failing to address the fundamental institutional reforms and other basics that are important in creating a platform for free and fair elections.

BY OBEY MANAYITI

This comes at a time when the electoral outcome is heavily disputed now as opposition parties are accusing Zanu PF and Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) of stealing the elections.

The electoral watchdog said the elections were rushed through in an unfavourable environment.

Before the elections, ERC petitioned Parliament with several outstanding issues that were supposed to be aligned with the Constitution.

ERC claimed the petition was ignored for over a year before public hearings were eventually conducted, but the hearings were marred by disruptions by stakeholders opposed to electoral reforms.

“The issues raised in the petition were only cosmetically addressed between 2014 and 2017, setting the stage for an election to be conducted based on a very weak legal framework,” ERC said yesterday.

“Going to elections with the independence of the electoral commission compromised was evidently planned and executed to ensure a predetermined electoral outcome,” added the electoral watchdog.

ERC said issues being disputed in terms of both the process and outcome following the July 30 elections were known and officially communicated to the authorities ahead of time, but were not acted upon.

The organisation said the bulk of the issues were previously raised in the past successive elections, but ignored, adding that the deployment of disputed measures by authorities before, during and after the elections could have been deliberate and measured, with the intention of achieving a predetermined outcome.

ERC said there were plenty of opportunities availed to Zimbabwean authorities for the electoral process to be improved, but they were ignored.

“Going forward, democracy in general and elections in particular can only be improved if Zimbabwe revisits the issue of legal reforms focusing on the Electoral Act and other related laws, institutional reform, especially reviewing the conduct of institutions that support democracy and the security sector and security of citizens, focussing on the political environment and how government interacts with citizens,” said the organisation.

“These three are interrelated and their exhaustive review has to be a national and inclusive process grounded in sincere political will on the part of those in authority.

“In addressing these issues, it will be essential to outline clear deliverables with defined timelines to avoid previous experiences of open-ended processes that end up dominated by partisan political considerations.”