The Sunday Mail
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) which recently deployed an observer mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) ahead of the Southern African country’s general election today — believes that its liaisons with regional and international electoral management bodies will help it consolidate international best practices.
Zec commissioners — Mr Daniel Chigaru, Mrs Faith Sebata, Ms Netsai Mushonga and two members of Zec secretariat formed part of the delegation observing the election preparations, which were initially scheduled for December 23.
An arson attack that destroyed over 80 percent of the election material on December 13 led to a postponement of the plebiscite to today.
Zec Commissioner Ms Netsai Mushonga last week said the Zimbabwe delegation, which was invited by the Sadc Electoral Commission Forum (ECF) was in Kinshasa not only to support the local electoral body, but to pick up new methods of conducting and managing elections.
“Before we hold our 2023 elections, we will be observing all elections in the region and see the best practises and by the time we hold ours, we will hold talks and choose the best we can adopt.
“These decisions are made through engagements with stakeholders.
“Some of the practises we observe may not apply to us, but we will explore with a view to adopting some of them,” said Commissioner Mushonga.
The observer mission’s tour of duty ran for a 15-day period to December 27.
A total of 12 Southern African countries also sent delegations.
Retired Justice Humid Humid of Zanzibar led the Sadc ECF delegation.
According to the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa, about 22 African countries are set to hold elections between now and 2023, with South Africa, Malawi and Botswana conducting theirs next year. Commissioner Mushonga said the new technology that is being used in the DRC elections particularly piqued their interest.
“We were able to go on the ground and observe preparations. The atmosphere in DRC was peaceful and we are happy about that. We were able to see cutting-edge technology. There was use of BVR (biometric voter registration) machines, making a voters’ roll of 40 million voters, and also voting machines which are possibly a first for Africa,” she said.
The Zec delegation observed that the use of voting machines in the DRC plebiscite has significantly cut costs. Commissioner Mushonga said, “Our elections are expensive and so in DRC, we were able to explore mechanisms to cut costs on elections and reduce the burden on the fiscus.” The Zec delegation also studied how conflicts are being solved during the election period in DRC. “Remember the bickering that always happen before or after elections in Zimbabwe. It becomes useful for us to observe how other people resolve their conflicts,” she said. Today’s elections in the DRC are considered to be momentous as they are expected to mark the first democratic transition of power in the Southern African country.
However, in three regions where suspected cases of ebola have emerged, elections have been postponed until March next year.