Zimbabweans commended for high political tolerance

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Charity Ruzvidzo

Zimbabwe is in line with international best practices of conducting elections when it comes to issues of political tolerance and voter education, according to the Election Resource’s Centre’s (ERC) fourth issue of Election Reform Barometer report.

Titled “Tracking Adherence to International Principles and Legislative Framework”, the report tracks pertinent electoral processes assessing adherence and compliance with internationally accepted best practices and Zimbabwe’s legislative framework.

The report covers the period from January to end of March 2018, a pre-election period characterised by voter registration, voter education, procurement and campaigns.

ERC director Tawanda Chimhini said Zimbabweans have increased levels of political tolerance compared to previous pre-election seasons.

“The assessment noted a perceived higher level of political tolerance in communities following the November 2017 intervention by the military compared to prior to that month. Rural communities engaged during the assessment feared intolerance of local leadership.

“Urban youths were however more intolerant of opposing political views as expressed in intra-party violence and civil society meetings such as SAPES discussion on Gukurahundi,” he said.

Chimhini also commended the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission for an increase in voter education.

“Voter education was largely extensive contributing to increased participation of citizens in voter registration compared to 2013 election. The majority of citizens engaged indicated that they received voter education from Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and accredited civil society organisations, voter educators had one on one sessions, TV, Radio and Information, Education and Communication (ICE) materials,” he said.

The research also lauded ZEC for a commendable BVR exercise which set the framework for an accurate, complete and current voter’s roll.

It states that 73, 5 percent of eligible voter population registered to vote at the conclusion of the mop-up exercise in February.

While the opposition MDC-Alliance have rapped ZEC for alleged impropriety, the ERC report states that election management has been largely competent, professional and credible.

The ERC report recommended effective measures against intimidation, violence, hate speech, political intolerance and vote buying by all stakeholders and that beyond elections, the Electoral Act needs to be fully aligned with the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

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