EISA recently opened an office in Harare. It will be providing support to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) so that it can fulfill its mandate to manage referendum and electoral processes in an efficient, effective, democratic and transparent manner.
Within the context of ZECís five year strategic plan, EISA's support to the commission includes
- collaborating to provide voter education to Zimbabwe citizens through a consultative process with stakeholders
- working to support its contribution to timely resolution of elections related conflict
- information sharing amongst stakeholders including political parties and the media
EISA will also be supporting political parties to effectively participate in the forth coming referendum through poll watching and supporting the Constitution Parliamentary Select Committee (COPAC) in the constitution making process of Zimbabwe. Previous and current areas of work with COPAC include certain aspects of public outreach and the drafting process of the new Constitution.
ZEC meets political parties in the aftermath of the referendum
Following a successful referendum hailed as free and fair by local and international observers, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) held a consultative meeting with leaders of all the political parties in Zimbabwe on 22nd April 2013. This was also the first formal meeting with political parties for the new ZEC Chairperson Hon. Justice Rita Makarau who was appointed to this position in March 2013. The purpose of the meeting was to allow parties to raise any concerns they had as the country prepares for the elections and, to jointly explore solutions with ZEC on some of the challenges pertaining to the electoral process. A total of 18 out of the 25 political parties were in attendance.
The meeting looked into three broad areas namely, the registration of voters, the voters roll and accreditation of observers. These were areas which were tabled before ZEC by political parties as their major concerns. There were, as would be expected other issues which came up during the meeting. These were and not limited to: voting procedures, party funding, selection of Polling Officers and announcement of election results. For its part, ZEC took the opportunity of the meeting to brief political parties on electoral reforms particularly with reference to the electoral system.
On voter registration, the parties' recommendations were that this function should be transferred from the Registrar General of Voters (RGV) to ZEC as they feel that voter registration is an elections function and that ZEC is constitutionally mandated to manage elections. The parties also indicated that the registration process is not smooth and places too much burden on the prospective voters to prove their residence despite that it is practically difficult for many residents to get this proof. The parties also indicated that the voters roll needed to be cleaned ahead of the elections. They complained that they are unable to help clean the voters roll because it is overly expensive for them to purchase the voters roll, whose current price was pegged at US$ 30,000 per national copy.
On observation, parties pointed out that the current Accreditation Committee was not politically inclusive (during this transitional period) and that it is dominated by the executive. They therefore suggested this should be looked into to ensure inclusivity but said that on a long term, ZEC should be solely responsible for accreditation. They also recommended to ZEC to consider creating at least accreditation centres in each province so that individuals do not have to travel long distances to apply to observe elections. Some parties also suggested that nomination and accreditation fees should be waived for political parties that do not receive financial support from the state.
The meeting was very constructive and contributed to the improvement of relations between ZEC and political parties as key stakeholders in the electoral process. ZEC assured the parties that it was going to pay attention to each of the points they raised and will provide an update on progress made during the next meeting to be held in the near future.
ZEC exhibits at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZIFTF) in Bulawayo
23rd-27th April 2013
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has an exhibiton stand at the trade fair in Bulawayo where voter education and voter registration materials are being handed out to hundred of crowds attending the trade fair. EISA has assisted ZEC with the printing of the materials for display at this exhibition. About 10 000 pamphlets in Ndebele, Shona, Sotho, Venda, Nambya, Tonga, English and Kalanga are being given to members of the public.
Besides giving out materials, ZEC and the Officials from the Registrar General's Office are jointly registering new voters, verifying existing voters and facilitating the transfer of voters from one constituency to another. Voters and prospective voters were also requested to put their complaints and compliments In a record book at the stand so that queries which needed further attention could be attended to after the trade fair.
About 802 people including the cabinet ministers and Members of parliament had visited the ZEC stand by close of business on Thursday 26th April 2013. Out of these people:
- 312 were registered
- 13 were turned away due to lack of proof of residence
- 5 were transferred from one constituency to another
The ZEC stand is a manned by 8 ZEC Officals and 2 Officals from the Office of the Registrar General of voters. The whole Team is supervised by the ZEC Commissioners on site.
ZEC and EISA conclude a successful study tour to Ghana and Tanzania
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and EISA have just returned from a two week study tour to Ghana and Tanzania. The study tour was in line with the ZEC/EISA project and it focused on various aspects of the electoral process including voter and civic education strategies, voter registration systems and stakeholder engagement. Having organised a very successful Constitutional Referendum on the 16th March 2013, the ZEC delegation visited the two countries as a peer learning exercise to draw lessons ahead of the Harmonised elections soon to be held in Zimbabwe. Thus, the delegation assessed the various strategies used by the Election Management Bodies (EMBs) in both countries.
The study tour was a resounding success as the ZEC delegation extracted maximum value through interaction with Senior Election Officials in Ghana and Tanzania. It also toured the IT departments in the two countries where voter registration data is processed and stored. In Tanzania the delegation also met with the Registrar of Political Parties who operates independently of the Electoral Commission.
Led by the ZEC Deputy Chairperson, Mrs Laetitia Joyce Kazembe, and Coordinated by the EISA Country Director, Victor Shale, the delegation consisted of 17 members drawn from the ZEC Secretariat, one Official from the office of the Registrar General of Voters (RGV), Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs, and a Senior Official from the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs.
EISA and ZEC hold conference on conflict management
EISA and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) held a big conference on the theme "Comparative Experience on Referendum and Election Related Conflicts" at the Rainbow Towers Hotel in Harare from 18th to 19th February 2013. In order to proactively address the causes of election related conflicts ahead of the referendum and elections, ZEC is cooperating with statutory and non-statutory institutions charged with the management of conflict in Zimbabwe. These include the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC), Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (JOMIC), Organ on National Healing Reconciliation and Integration (ONHRI) and the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP). It is under the auspices of this cooperation that the conference was held.
The purpose of the Conference was therefore to address the problem of violent election-related conflict in with a view to understanding its external and internal causes, magnitude and consequences for democratic governance. Some of the important questions which the conference looked at were and not limited to: Do electoral stakeholders have faith in the constitutional, legal and institutional framework for elections? How do the electoral stakeholders relate to each other? Is there a code of conduct governing the behaviour of key actors? How enforceable is the code? Do stakeholders respect the code? Besides formal mechanisms, what alternative dispute resolution mechanisms exist to deal with conflicts timeously? Contributions on best practices from across the SADC region and the continent were made by invited expert.
A total of 141 participants from various stakeholders attended the conference. The stakeholders included:
- Political parties;
- Civil society organisations (including; Faith based organisation and NGOs);
- Academia; and
- Development partners
EISA Conducts a Training Workshop for political parties
EISA conducted a two day training workshop for political parties in Zimbabwe on 6th and 7th February 2013 at the Holiday Inn Hotel in Bulawayo. The workshop focused on strengthening the internal organisation and capacity of parties in Zimbabwe ahead of the referendum and elections to be held in 2013. The content of the workshop covered four main thematic areas namely; party systems, policy development, party public outreach and leadership. The workshop took place at the important time in Zimbabwe's politics as it coincided with the conclusion of the constitution making process and the adoption of the draft constitution by the House of Representatives on Wednesday 6th February 2013. A total of 32 participants consisting of 23 males and 9 females were drawn from the six main political parties in Zimbabwe. The participants were high ranking members of the parties including Members of Parliament (MPs), Political Commissars and members of the parties' Politburos and Central Committees (depending on the nomenclature used by each party. These parties which attended were:
- Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn (MKD)
- Movement for Democratic Change-Mutambara (MDC-M)
- Movement for Democratic Change-Ncube (MDC-N)
- Movement for Democratic Change-Tsvangirai (MDC-T)
- Zimbabwe African Peoples Union (ZAPU)
- Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF)
Two senior members of the Zimbabwean Electoral Commission (ZEC) were also invited to participate. As a norm in Zimbabwe, two staff members from the President's Office also attended the workshop.
While the individual participant's capacity and understanding of the issues around the internal organisation of political parties was enhance, the added benefit to all parties was the opportunity to interact with their counterparts and share views on issues which affect parties in Zimbabwe irrespective of the party colours. Thus, this workshop has directly contributed to the improvement of interparty relations in Zimbabwe at a critical time when the country is preparing for elections.
The workshop was organized under the auspices of the EISA SADC region political parties program. Training was conducted by the Zimbabwe EISA Country Director, Dr. Victor Shale and the Programme Assistant from the EISA Head Office, Ms. Funanani Nemaheni. Both have co-authored the training manual which was used for the workshop.
Members of Parliament and Senators are briefed on the electoral process
28-29 November 2012
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and EISA carried out a briefing of the two houses of parliament, the National Assembly and the Senate on the progress made in the electoral process to date. The briefing sessions which were held at the Parliament of Zimbabwe took place on 28th and 29th November 2012 for the Senate and National Assembly respectively. The briefing session provided a platform for ZEC to inform MPs on the state of its preparedness in relation to elections. The ZEC Commissioners and members of the Secretariat made presentations on different thematic areas including electoral reforms highlighting what has changed in the electoral law, voter registration in terms of the process and issues, voter education which is carried out jointly with civil society organisations, management of election related conflict and the partnership formed with the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (JOMIC), the Organ on National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration (ONHRI), the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) and the Zimbabwe Republic Police. ZEC also made a presentation on the electoral cycle and a demonstration of the voting process highlighting important aspects of the process, the likely challenges and how they are to be addressed.
ZEC and EISA have previously carried out similar briefing session for the other key stakeholders such as political parties, media and civil society organizations. This is an ongoing initiative which seeks to ensure that all key stakeholders are updated on the electoral process.
EISA and ZEC hold election reporting training for the media, October 2012
EISA AND ZEC-EISA conducted a two day intensive training workshop on election reporting for the public and private media on 30th to 31st October 2012. A total of 45 participants consisting of 39 males and 6 females were drawn from the print and electronic media. These included the Zimbabwe Newspapers (Zimpapers) Alpha Media Holdings; the Financial Gazette; Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings, which runs four radio and two television stations. Freelance journalists were also invited to participate at the workshop.
The journalists' skills in reporting on the pre-election, polling and post-election phases of the electoral process were sharpened through this workshop. The journalists were also introduced to international instruments pertaining to the regulation of the role of the media in elections as well as to media ethics by Mr. Blessing Jonah, a media expert from the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) and two internationally renowned media experts. These were Dr. Raymond Louw who holds many positions in South Africa including Deputy Chairman of the Media Freedom Committee of the South African National Editors' Forum, Vice President of PEN South Africa, Chairman of Misa- SA, Council Member of the Freedom of Expression Institute of SA and Chairman of the SA Press Council and Dr. Joe Thloloe who is South Africa's Press Ombudsman. In addition, ZEC used the opportunity to update workshop participants on the contents of the Electoral Amendment Act 2012 which came into effect recently.
EISA observes the Stakeholders Conference on the Draft Constitution, October 2012
EISA was accredited as one of the observers during the 2nd Stakeholders conference on the draft constitution from 21st to 23rd October 2012. In keeping with Article 6(1)((iv) of the Global Political Agreement (GPA), the Constitutional Parliamentary Select Committee (COPAC) which is the driver of the constitution making process convened the 2nd All Stakeholders Conference in order to table its draft constitution. Stakeholders consisted of the three political parties in the GPA namely; -ZANU (PF), MDC-T, and the MDC as well as civil society organisations (CSOs). EISA has been involved in the formative stages of the constitution making process in Zimbabwe through supporting COPAC's public outreach activities as well as the drafting process of the draft Constitution which was tabled to the stakeholders at this conference.
During the two days stakeholders went through the constitution draft thoroughly and thematically. As would be expected, re-affirming their positions on major areas which have been rigourously debated among the parties in the GPA. The differences notwithstanding, stakeholders were at the end of the day content with the fact that they were accorded the opportunity to express their positions so that the constitution will be a trully negotiated product. EISA observed that some of the key issues that were deliberated albeit not necessarily agreed upon across the various thematic areas include and are not limited to:
- Dual-citizenship: While some advocated for an explicit provision allowing the holding of multiple citizenship, others argued against that and preferred the current set-up which does not permit the holding of more than one citizenship.
- The position of the Senate where some submitted that the Senate has to be abolished while others felt that it should be retained.
- The role of Parliament versus other institutions in the protection of the constitution. Whearas the draft constitution makes the protection of the constitution to parliament, other participants had differing views on this, submitting that that role would be played by a number of instituions including the Executive.
- Procedure on the election of the Speaker of parliament in terms of whether this has to be presided over by a person/institution outside of Parliament or whether to retain the current practice where the Speaker is elected under an election presided over by the Clerk of Parliament.
- Gender parity in relation to the presidency with some submitting that if the President is a man, the Deputy President must be a woman, and vice versa.
- Qualifications for Members of Parliament (MPs) in terms of whether there has to be stated minimum academic qualifications for MPs and what those should be.
- National Prosecutions with reagard to whether to create the National Prosecuting Authority or to retain the status quo where the Attorney General presides over public prosecutions.
- Creation of a Constitutional Court at the apex of the judicial system where others argued this was the best way while others wanted retention of the current framework in which the Supreme Court sits as a constitutional court when the need arises.
EISA and ZEC conduct voter education training of Civil Society Organisations
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) will for the first time involve civil society organisations (CSOs) in conducting voter education throughout the country. In 2011 EISA and ZEC consulted CSOs from across the country and invited them to contribute in the shaping of the voter education content. This consultative exercise culminated in the production of a voter education guide on which all voter education naterial for the coming referendum and elections will be based. In line with this progressive decision by ZEC to involve CSOs in voter education, EISA and ZEC conducted two train the trainer workshops for CSOs in Bulawayo and Mutare on 22nd to 23rd and 24th to 25th October 2012 respectively. The objective of the workshops was to train CSOs on the use of the voter education guide so as to ensure that they will communicate the same message to the electorate. These worskhops are a sequel to a similar workshop which EISA and ZEC had organised for the Provinsial and District ZEC officers who will be working with CSOs in their respective areas of jurisdiction in the run up to the referendum and elections.
A total of 98 participants representing 40 NGO and FBOs were trained at the two workshops. In turn, these participants are expected to train members of their respective organisations using the same voter educations guide. During the same time ZEC will be considering applications submitted to it by CSOs which were represented at both workhshops for accreditation as voter education trainers. These CSOs will be expected to submit their voter education plans ZEC so that it can do oversight over the CSO voter education campaigns.
EISA and ZEC begin voter education campaign with a training workshop for election officials
In preparation for the referendum and elections, EISA and ZEC conducted a train-the-trainer workshop for Provincial and District Election Officers in Kadoma, Zimbabwe from 15th to 17th October 2012. The objective of the workshop was to ensure a uniform approach to voter education for the forthcoming referendum and elections. A total of 85 participants consisting of 10 Provincial Election Officers, 62 District Election Officers and 13 Provincial Voter Educators were trained on how to conduct voter education using the voter education guide developed in collaboration with civil society organisations and political parties.
After this training workshop, the participants will be used by ZEC to conduct a series of training workshops for civil society organisations (CSOs). Although ZEC is mandated by law to ensure that voter education is carried out countrywide, it has decided to involve CSOs in executing this mandate. These CSOs include among others the three main umbrella bodies namely, the National Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (NANGO), The National Association of Societies for the Care of the Handicapped (NASCOH) and Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN). Once trained, the CSOs will be accredited by ZEC to caryout voter education throughout the country using the same voter education guide used to train the ZEC election officials.
Top: ZEC Commissioner BF Nhandara addressing participants at the workshop. Next to her are the EISA Coutnry Representative and ZEC Deputy Director of Operations.
Bottom: Participants doing one of the energisers at the workshop.
ZEC opens an exhibition stand at the Harare agricultural show, August 2012
The voter registration pamphlets and posters which have been produced by ZEC and EISA are being exhibited and distributed to the thousands of Zimbabweans who are attending the 2012 edition of the Harare Agricultural Show. ZEC is using this event to encourage people to register to vote in the forthcoming referendum and elections. Besides responding to all election related quiries from members of the public at the show grounds, the ZEC Officials who are manning the exhibition stand have computers on which the eligible voters who visit the stand can check their registration status. If they do not appear on the system they are directed to the relevant district offices for registration as most of them do not have the required registration documents in hand when they visit the exhibition stand. The Harare Agricultural Show started on 18th August and ends on 25th August 2012.
EISA hands over voter education materials to ZEC, August 2012
EISA handed over voter registration posters, voter education guide and pamphlets to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) on 16th August 2012. This is the first consignment of materials which are being printed by ZEC in collaboration with EISA ahead of the referendum and elections in the country. The materials were accepted by the Deputy Chief Elections Officer (Operations) on behalf of ZEC while EISA was represented by its Country Director. So far 19,000 voter registration posters have been printed consisting of six major languages. There are also 1000 voter education guide copies written in English and 2,000 pamphlets also in English. The voter education guide is being transalted into the two other official languages namely; Ndebele and Shona. The pamphlets will be produced in 15 other languages and dialects in order to ensure effective outreach to all voters in Zimbabwe. A total of 6 000 000 voter registration, referendum and elections pamplets will be printed. The printing of all the materials is made possible through the generous support of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), the Royal Norwegian Embassy and the Canadian international Development Agency (CIDA)
EISA trains 20 political parties on conflict management ahead of the referendum and elections
EISA Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) jointly conducted a conflict management training workshop for Directors of Elections of 20 political parties including the three in the power-sharing government. The two-day training workshop was held in Bulawayo on 31st July to 1st August 2012. Participants were trained on conflict and its manifestations, conflict progression, escalation and de-escalation and on effective strategies for managing election-related conflicts. Through a participatory approach, participants identified causes of election-related conflicts in Zimbabwe and learned skills on how such conflicts can be managed prior to, during and after the referendum and elections. Both EISA and ZEC targeted the Directors of Elections as they are the ones who are directly in charge of their parties' election machinery. The office of the Registrar General (RG) was also invited to make a presentation on the status of the voter registration process to the parties.The trained parties are:
- African National Council (ANC ZIM),
- African National Party (ANP),
- Democratic Alliance United People's Party (DA-UPP),
- Free Zimbabwe Congress (FZC),
- Mavambo Khusile Dawn (MKD),
- Movement for Democratic Change (MDC),
- Movement for Democratic Change 99 (MDC 99),
- Movement for Democratic Change- Mutambara (MDC-M),
- Movement for Democratic Change-Tsvangirai (MDC-T),
- Mthwakazi National Party (MNP),
- Multiracial Congress of Democrats (MCD),
- Patriotic Union of Matebeleland (PUMA),
- Progressive & Innovative Party Movement of Zimbabwe (PIMZ),
- Rebuilding Party of Zimbabwe (RPZ),
- United Peoples Party (UPP),
- Voice of the People (VP),
- Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU-NDONGA),
- Zimbabwe African National Union (Patriotic Front) (ZANU-PF),
- Zimbabwe African Peoples Union (ZAPU),
- Zimbabwe African People's Union Federal Party ZAPU-FP.
Round Table with Media Decision Makers, July 2012
On 20 July 2012 EISA held a successful roundtable table between the Executives and Editors of all media houses in Zimbabwe at the ZEC Head office. The meeting was also attended by the Zimbabwe Media Commssion (ZMC) and the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ). This was the first meeting of this kind and it has contributed positively to the building of strong relationships between the media and ZEC. The meeting looked into among other questions: (a) What is the role of the Media in a polarised political environment such as in Zimbabwe? (b) How can the media balance between its duty to inform and its business interests? Put otherwise, what needs to be done to ensure that the Media fulfills its mandate and complies with media ethics instead of focussing on "headline driven news" in pursuance of profits?
Following discussions on the role of the media in elections and the identification of problematic areas in this regard, congrete proposals were tabled and agreed on. For example:
- An agreement by ZEC and the Media Houses to share information on all ZEC activities using a group/block mailing system for wider publicity.
- Collaboration to enhance the quality of ZEC website. Here the Media has volunteered to use its on-line editors and IT expertise to provide capacity of the ZEC IT Department (for free) on how to improve the Website.
- The media and ZEC have agreed to work together to link the ZEC website to their websites and to other local and international websites which have more traffic so as to ensure a higher number of visitors to the ZEC website and for purposes of reaching a wider audience on electoral process.
- Agreement to have a follow up meeting between the Media and ZEC to work out modalities on providing space in the case of print media for ZEC to write on electoral matters and also to provide airtime by the electronic media for the same purpose.
- The Media will communicate with ZEC and EISA on the areas which should be covered by the on-coming training workshop for the journalists so as to ensure that all aspects are covered and that the training workshop enhances the journalists understanding of the electoral process and how they should report during the referundum and the elections.
ZEC has also been invited by the Zim papers to utilised airtime on its newly opened radio station for voter education. There will be a meeting on how this is to be done including the frequency of the programmes ZEC may come up with.
Round Table Between ZEC, JOMIC, ONHRI, ZHRC and ZRP, June 2012
The Zimbabwean Electoral Commission (ZEC) and the EISA organised a Roundtable between ZEC, the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (JOMIC), the Organ on National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration (ONHRI), the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) and the Zimbabwe Republic Police on 19th June 2012. The purpose of this Roundtable was to accord these institutions an opportunity to explore synergies in managing election related coflicts in the run up to the referendum and elections in Zimbabwe. All these institutions have conflict management as part of their mandate and EISA and ZEC wanted to ensure that there was not going to be duplication of efforts particularly because they will be dealing with the same constituency-the electorate. During the Roundtable, each institution made a presentation on what it was doing and plans to do in the future as far as conflict management is concerned.
The ouput of this Roundtable was the identification of common areas of interest and possible cooperation. The Roundtable culminated in the creation of a Joint Committee consisting of officials from all the institutions mentioned above. This Committee will serve to coordinate the efforts of the respective institutions and prepare for their engagement with government on the dire need for their funding so as to be able to carryout their mandate. The Roundtable ended with a joint declaration by these institutions to work together in preventing conflict prior to, during and after the referendum and elections.
Resource persons were: 1) Dr. Clever Nyathi (National University of Science & Technology (NUST))) who presented on "the Causes of election related conflict: Regional Experiences"; 2) Mrs Georgina Chikoko (Former Commissioner of the Malawi Electoral Commission) who presented on "Management of election related conflicts: Experiences from the SADC region and; 3) Reverend Gift Moerane (South African Council of Churches) who shared the South African experiences of mediating election related conflicts.
EISA/ZEC conflict management workshop, June 2012
EISA Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) jointly conducted a conflict management workshop for ZECs senior management including Commissioners, Directors and Provincial Electoral Officials on 22nd June 2012. A total of 45 managers participated at the workshop which was meant to enhance the capacity of ZEC to manage election related conflicts particularly as it prepares to organise the much anticipated referendum and elections. EISA had invited IEC South Africa to share its experiences on conflict management with emphasis on Conflict Management Panels (CMPs) and Multiparty Liaison Committees (MPLCs).
The Western Cape Province Provincial Electoral Officer (PEO) Reverend Courtney Sampson was delegated by IEC South Africa to deliver a presentation at the workshop. The participants were trained on conceptual understanding of conflict, its manifestations and causes of election related conflicts. Zimbabwean causes of election related conflicts were discussed with the participants and they were invited to suggest remedies for these causes. The output of the workshop was that participants came up with concrete suggestion on how ZEC can deal with election related conflicts.