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Various factors will significantly impact the integrity of 2018 election-

by Stephen Jakes
16 Jul 2017 at 09:26hrs | Views
The Platform for Leveraging Elections Democracy and Governance (PLEDGE) has said number of factors and processes could impact significantly on the integrity and credibility of the 2018 elections; issues of security and safety are therefore paramount.

The organisation said security concerns become crucial especially against a backdrop of electoral disputes and consistent allegations of electoral fraud or vote rigging.

"These allegations have fed public perceptions of mistrust in electoral management systems and electoral governance. Restoring credibility and integrity in the Zimbabwe electoral system necessitate addressing some security and safety concerns. Actually issues of electoral integrity are in essence questions of security governance of the electoral process. Logically, it makes sense to mainstream security in all electoral processes in a manner guaranteeing transparency and accountability as best practice in good governance," said PLEDGE.

"Increasingly, elections are being targets of external interference hence a threat to national security; as lessons could be drawn from alleged Russian interference on US presidential elections in 2016. If stronger economies and established democracies like the USA cannot guarantee electoral security and safety it follows that smaller nations with weak economies could even be more vulnerable. While Zimbabwe is introducing the biometric voter registration system to address deficits in the voters roll; different challenges may emerge elsewhere to undermine the credibility of the 2018 elections and subsequent ones unless addressed."

PLEDGE said already inadequate public knowledge on what BVR can do and cannot do has generated controversies and fed the rumour mill which if not appropriately and timely addressed could prove dangerous to the acceptance of the electoral outcome.

"It is therefore imperative in agenda setting to explore what may likely erode Zimbabwe's electoral credibility and prepare a mitigating strategy to forestall it. This conversation seeks to aptly demonstrate that a country's security especially on electoral issues does not solely rest on its primary security institutions like police, army and guns but on conscientious citizens who feel national ownership, national responsibility and national commitment to all process for the good of their country," said PLEDGE.

"All electoral stakeholders including political parties, broader civil society, business, universities, local media, traditional leaders and various government departments and Parliament have a responsibility to ensure the security of the electoral processes if 2018 Elections are to restore integrity, credibility and legitimacy in our elections. Therefore we not only focus on identifying potential security gaps but also on proposing some alternative ways of addressing those gaps and the potential roles of the various electoral stakeholders."

PLEDGE said it is the first and currently the only full time CSO Election platform established in and for the three Matabeleland provinces.

"The Platform includes the following member organizations; Contemporary Affairs Foundation, Centre for Public Engagement, Abammeli Human Rights Lawyers Network, King George V1, Centre for Innovation and Technology, The Young Women Incubation Zone and researchers from local universities," said PLEDGE.

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