The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) says it is deeply concerned by the allocation of an inadequate budget to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) which militates against the capacity of the Commission to administer free, fair, and credible elections thus undermining democracy.
According to a report on the 2021 National Budget by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice chaired by Makoni South MP, Misheck Mataranyika (Zanu PF), ZEC was allocated $2.3 billion instead of $12.4 billion that the Commission had indicated it would need for the year 2021.
“ZESN expresses 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. Members of Parliament 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 endeavour that is usually lengthy and costly.” ZESN said in a statement.
ZESN said the inadequate budget will further weaken democracy in the country.
“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.” The statement read.
Furthermore, ZESN said there is need for government to ensure that the pillars of democracy are upheld.
“ZESN reiterates that there is need for government and all institutions supporting democracy to create a conducive environment that ensures that the basic pillars of democracy are upheld. The Network restates its call for the holding of free, fair, peaceful, and credible elections; and extending the scope of right to vote in Zimbabwe.” The statement further read.
The country is set to hold harmonised elections in 2023. ZEC was also supposed to hold by elections this month after the MDC-T led by Thokozani Khupe recalled more than 32 MPs and several councillors countrywide aligned to the MDC Alliance led by Nelson Chamisa. However, Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga barred by-elections citing COVID-19 regulations.