Zimbabwe’s NERA Calls for Accountability of ZEC and Judiciary in Election Controversy

NERA Urges Zimbabweans to Hold ZEC and Judiciary Responsible for Contested Elections

by Ikeoluwa Ogungbangbe

Manyara Muyenziwa, the convener of the National Electoral Reforms Agenda (NERA) and leader of the FORUS political party, has stressed the importance of holding Zimbabwe’s Judiciary and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) accountable for elections that have faced significant controversy.

Zimbabwe’s August 2023 harmonised elections garnered international attention for being described as “a sham” that fell short of meeting international standards. Several observer missions, including the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the European Union (EU), echoed these concerns.

In the wake of these contentious elections, the EU took the unprecedented step of withdrawing its funding from ZEC, citing numerous irregularities.

Addressing opposition political parties that joined forces with NERA by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to advocate for electoral reforms, Muyenziwa highlighted the importance of acknowledging and acting upon the SADC Elections Observer Mission (EOM) Final Report on Zimbabwe Elections.

“SADC conducted a post-election assessment, putting forth their recommendations. What actions were taken in response? How did we address the issues highlighted in the final report?” Muyenziwa questioned.

She emphasized that Zimbabweans need to take proactive steps to address the lack of free and fair elections in the country, which was a driving force behind the formation of NERA.

Muyenziwa acknowledged that there were various reasons why the recommendations of the SADC EOM final report were not acted upon, including a lack of understanding of the electoral processes and how to navigate them effectively.

“SADC invested its efforts by conducting this assessment. How did we respond to their efforts? How can we establish solutions that lead to a constitution capable of resolving our national issues?”

She raised concerns about the constitution’s provision that mandates a seven-day window for any election result to be challenged in court, questioning whether this timeframe allows for a comprehensive examination of the process.

Muyenziwa also stressed the importance of scrutinizing court processes and the required documentation for legal challenges, calling for the active participation of all Zimbabweans in these critical processes.

“We should not dismiss the SADC report as a mere artifact. We must carefully dissect its pages of information and recommendations to hold ZEC and the Judiciary accountable and provide constructive criticism to improve the electoral process,” Muyenziwa emphasized.

The political parties involved in the MoU with NERA have united to address the electoral reforms proposed by NERA, particularly amid the political and economic challenges currently affecting Zimbabwe.

It is worth noting that the main opposition political party, the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), did not participate in the signing ceremony, indicating the complex and diverse political landscape in Zimbabwe.

As the country grapples with the aftermath of the contested 2023 elections, NERA’s call for accountability of ZEC and the Judiciary underscores the ongoing efforts to strengthen Zimbabwe’s electoral processes and ensure free and fair elections in the future.

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