ZESN lobbies for inclusion of disabled and special interest groups in electoral processes

AN independent election watchdog is lobbying the government, parliament and other electoral stakeholders on the need to have policies that foster the participation of the disabled and other special interest groups.

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) said civil and political rights are human rights that must be enjoyed by all persons regardless of their status as enshrined in regional and international charters governing elections.

Zimbabwe is a signatory to the SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections and the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance among others.

The treaties or agreements seek to promote universal values and democratic principles as well as respect for human rights.

“When there are no principles of human rights, democracy suffers. ZESN is lobbying government, parliament and key electoral stakeholders to foster policies that do not create a democratic deficit or disenfranchise women and men, People with Disabilities (PWDs), youths and special groups in elections,” the ZESN said.

“The Network is of the view that democracy also suffers when men and women are unable to enjoy their rights due to various reasons including gender-based violence which can manifest as physical violence or other forms of aggression.

“It includes coercion or intimidation, harassment, cyberbullying, sexual offences and can take place in different phases of the electoral cycle and affect the credibility of an election, hence there is need to reduce inequalities and advance human rights.”

ZESN implores all stakeholders to promote human rights to ensure everyone has access to the preventive benefits of human rights.

To boost women’s active political participation, women’s lobby groups have said there must be legislated candidate quotas and reserved seats.

The ZESN also once called on the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to turn down political party lists that do not have a 50/50 representation.

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