By Joyce Mukucha
As Zimbabwe is preparing for this year’s harmonised elections, the Zimbabwe Electoral Support Network (ZESN) has launched a debate series on the 18th of January 2018 at Crown Plaza Hotel which is meant to discuss possible ways to pave a way for free, fair and credible elections in the country.
The debate which was led by panelists which include Violet Gonda, Dr Shingirai Munyeza (Pastor), Priscilla Misihairambwi-Mushonga (politician and a feminist), and Dr Petina Gopa (lawyer) was ran under the theme, “Make Elections Make Sense.”
Issues which include: what can be done to increase citizens’ participation in elections, electoral reforms, election management and campaign finance were raised at the series debate.
Speaking during the debate, Mr Andrew Makoni said there was need to boost confidence and trust in the people so that they regard voting as something which can bring change.
“Citizens are raising various questions in as far as their participation in elections is concerned, they have queries like why vote when the outcome is obvious meaning today elections no longer make essence to them,” he said.
Other panellists suggested that there was need to remove fear which was instilled in the majority of Zimbabwe to have elections that has the result which is not contestable and the need to make sure that the vote is secured.
Dr Petina Gapa alluded that the freedom of citizens should be protected there is need for security sector in the elections.
“Zimbabwe has suffered for years for legitimate reasons and we had an independence war in the country which was won by one group and that group had to go legitimising processes now we need an election with fruitful results that will make everyone happy,” she said.
Citizens suggested that demands which are coming from the civil society need to be taken serious.
In the discussion, other citizens said that if those in leadership are able to be accountable then the country can excel to another level and keep ensuring that the freedom of the citizens is protected..
Civil Society of Zimbabwe also said there was need of a broad range of observers from regional, continental and international communities since election observation promotes transparency, accountability and strengthens democratic processes.
Civil society of Zimbabwe believes that observation and monitoring of electoral processes play an important role in safeguarding election integrity and underpin the legitimacy of free and fair elections. Therefore Zimbabwe civil society calls for the invitation of observers to be linked from the executive.