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AfricaCampaigns/ElectionsZimbabwe

Zimbabwe’s inadequate budget allocation to ZEC weakens democracy: ZESN

By Almot Maqolo

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Election watchdog, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) has expressed concern over inadequate budget allocation to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) which militates against the capacity of the Commission to administer free, fair and credible elections thus undermining democracy. 

ZESN implores the government to demonstrate political will by sufficiently supporting ZEC financially.

The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs has revealed in a report on the 2021 National Budget that ZEC was allocated $2.3 billion instead of $12.4 billion that the Commission had indicated it would need for the year 2021.

It expressed dismay at ZEC’s paltry budgetary allocation which MPs said would not be adequate to enable the Commission to conduct the much awaited process of delimiting electoral boundaries ahead of the 2023 elections. 

Parliamentarians indicated that ZEC would need $8.6 billion for the delimitation process, yet only $1.744 billion was appropriated. 

In general, the delimitation of electoral boundaries is a challenging technical endeavor that is usually lengthy and costly. Delimitation is a key electoral process with implications for electoral outcomes, including the fairness and credibility of elections.

“A properly conducted delimitation exercise ensures equality of voting strength, fair and adequate representation of the electorate, contiguity and compactness in the geometric shape of constituencies and, importantly in the case of Zimbabwe, that the variance in the number of voters in all constituencies fall within the =/-20% constitutional threshold,” ZESN stated.

“ZESN is of the view that the move by government to leave a variance of 81% between ZEC’s proposed budget of 12.4 billion and the actual allocation of $2.3 billion further weakens democracy in the country given that, a few months ago, by-elections were indefinitely suspended on account of the COVID-19 pandemic despite the fact that in recent months many countries, including in Africa, have been holding elections under similar circumstances.”

Zimbabwe stands guided by the tenets of democracy which are based on, among others, respect for the Constitution, rule of law, fundamental human rights and freedoms, good governance and regular elections, all rooted in the watershed elections of 1980 which marked a transition to independence. 

“There is therefore need for the government to uphold the tenets of democracy through availing adequate resources to enable the holding of all key electoral processes in-between general elections and during general elections that should be held every five years as stipulated by the supreme law of the country.”

ZESN reiterated that there is a need for the government and all institutions supporting democracy to create a conducive environment that ensures that the basic pillars of democracy are upheld.


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