Civil society resolves to coordinate on elections

Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have re-solved to coordinate and come up with com-prehensive citizen and policy based program-ming aimed at ensuring a credible, free and fair poll ahead of Zimbabwe’s 2018 general elections.

There was general consensus among stake-holders gathered at a workshop in Harare co-hosted by the Zimbabwe Elections Support Network (ZESN) and the Election Resource Centre (ERC) on the need for a co-ordinated effort by CSOs to timeously address the hard-ware issues affecting the conduct of elections in Zimbabwe for the country to have a credi-ble poll whose outcome will not be disputed.

Representatives of CSOs drawn from the country’s ten provinces agreed that failure by civil society organisations in the country to collaborate would see them making ‘popcorn interventions’, a development which would see them fail to execute their core mandate including holding accountable the govern-ment towards ensuring a credible free and fair election.

The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) was urged to take the leading role in confronting government ‘pound by pound’ and ensuring that government adheres to Constitutional provisions which stipulated and guaranteed the holding of a credible free and fair election.

Pedzisayi Ruhanya, Director of the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute (ZDI) said, “CSOs should feed into Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, which in turn should go roburst, pound by pound and address the hardware issues of the forth-coming elections.”

Ruhanya said such efforts will only be suc-cessful if stakeholders including other civil society organisations in the country worked together and fed into CiZC.

ERC Director, Tawanda Chimhini emphasised the need for CSOs to ensure that their efforts are inclusive of the engagement of international and regional CSOs and bodies.

“Our efforts should be well coordinated because there is no one organisation which can successfully work on elections without the support and input of other organisations,” he said.

“It is important for CSOs to make the necessary linkages so that we have a defined space not only now, but even in the post 2018 era,” he said. ZESN Director, Rindai Chipfunde Vava emphasised the importance of linking previous work with the current prevailing environment adding that failure to embrace each other’s work would see haphazard interventions by COSs, a development which had the potential to see them fail in their watchdog role. “We do not want a scenario where we are labelled as we do not have a strategy. Citizens’ engagement, the mobilisation of citizens’ especially young people towards participating in governance issues should be prioritised as we heard towards the watershed election,” she added. Participants at the workshop came up a draft election strategy. However, CSOs were encouraged to contribute their action plans so that CSOs can come up with a comprehensive document, which is set to guide the conduct of CSOs in the pre-election, election and post-election era.

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