Electoral reforms must include all stakeholders -Newsday Zimbabwe

Trevor Ncube

It is encouraging that the government, the opposition and civil society are all talking about electoral reforms. This is a good thing.

There is a realization on the part of all parties concerned that elections under the current restrictive laws would be of little use. There is still no consensus on the form and extent of crucial reforms that would make Zimbabwe’s elections credible and move the country forward.

Building a sustainable nation requires inclusive consultation where all stakeholders are equal partners with a common interest.

Inclusive policymaking ensures broader buy-in by all stakeholders, paving a sustainable path to peace, stability and lasting prosperity.

Policy-making and institutions that marginalize certain stakeholders create feelings of unease and mistrust among compatriots, which undermine nation building.

State-sponsored violence before, during and after elections since independence has eroded public confidence in electoral democracy. What’s the point of voting when the whole process is rigged to benefit the incumbent?

The release of the “Pre-Election Compact on Electoral Reforms” by the Citizens Coalition for Change led by Nelson Chamisa and the Government’s Electoral Amendment Bill 2022 offer a crossroads of ideas for dialogue that will lead to national consensus on electoral reforms.

The Zanu PF and the opposition are important players in Zimbabwean history; the same is true for organized businesses and faith-based organizations. No effort should be spared to widen the circle to ensure broad buy-in from all stakeholders.

So the next step must be a citizens’ rally, the goal of which is agreement on a comprehensive set of reforms. This process requires statesmen and women who rise above sectional interests and set their sights on what is important to the 16 million people who make up the Zimbabwean nation.

As I indicated last week, elections held under current conditions will most likely be contested and will sow further seeds of disunity and instability. The experience of the past 42 years has shown that contested elections and our violent policies have been our undoing as a nation.

Is there enough time to do this important work before the next election?

The answer is categorical: Yes!!

Postpone the 2023 elections if necessary, so that the next plebiscite takes place under near perfect conditions. Credible elections, the outcome of which is not disputed, are an important element for a common goal, national development and prosperity for all.

Zimbabwe desperately needs normality for the majority of its citizens to breathe and dream again. All politicians truly invested in ensuring a better life for the majority of our fellow citizens, especially the poor, widows and orphans, should seize this opportunity.

The absence of electoral reforms has been seen as the justification for economic sanctions against Zimbabwe. It is in our own interest to have a level playing field for democratic free expression.

We have the power within us to do what will result in the lifting of sanctions – not to please anyone but for our own benefit. Electoral reforms are good for Zanu PF, the opposition and all peace-loving citizens. Let’s do this for posterity and for the love of Zimbabwe.

Trevor Ncube is a Zimbabwean entrepreneur and chairman of Alpha Media Holdings (AMH). AMH is the publisher of NewsDay, The Standard, Zimbabwe Independent, Southern Eye and Weekly Digest and operates Heart and Soul Broadcasting Service. This is from the newsletter In Conversation with Trevor.

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