THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has said its duty is to implement existing laws and if political parties were not happy with the laws, they must use Parliament to make their desired changes whilst there was still time.
ZEC commissioner Dr Qhubani Moyo also said there was need to enact laws to punish political parties once they violate the code of conduct during election period.
“A political party must take it as a form of an early exercise that they push for electoral reforms in Parliament so that whatever happens, the commission is there to just implement whatever has been agreed,” Moyo said.
“Parties should not just go to Parliament, fail to change whatever electoral laws they want to and then come here to bash the commission.”
Moyo was speaking in during a virtual workshop organised by the Centre for Innovation and Technology (CITe) dubbed Zambia’s historic elections: Lessons for Zimbabwe.
He added: “The job of the commission is clearly spelt in the Constitution and the electoral Act and as long as we play according to the defined rules of the game, surely the commission should be given the kind of respect that it should have.”
Moyo said there was need to register political parties ahead of the 2023 polls if these sanctions were to work.
The need to register political parties was also raised in a compendium of elections observer recommendations by the Zimbabwe election Support Network (Zesn) as well as recommendations by the Motlanthe Commission of inquiry into the August 1, 2018 civilian killings.
“It is important for the country to have some organic legal definition of what constitutes a political party, maybe by also ensuring that they are registered because currently, we don’t register political parties. You just group yourselves and then write to Zec to say, we are such an organisation and then you are allowed to exist without registration,” Moyo said.
On political parties that violate the law during elections, Moyo said going towards 2023, there was need to come up with punitive sanctions to deter parties from violating the law at will. The existing code of conduct was more like a gentleman’s agreement and was not strict enough, Moyo said.
“We do have a code of conduct currently, but there are no sanctions or enforcement mechanisms, it’s just more of a consensus document where political parties come in and agree that this is what we should not do,” Moyo said.
“It does not go further to say what kind of sanctions should be made should they not stick to that. So, clearly the Zambian situation, which we have also seen happening in Tanzania and some other Sadc (Southern African Development Community) countries where political parties that break the code of conduct will get some sanctions, is something we should take on board.”
Zimbabwe has elections coming up im 2023, but the opposition MDC Alliance lacks the numbers to push for electoral reforms in Parliament. □