Editorial Note: Zambia elections...key lessons for Zimbabwe
We are pleased to bring to you this edition of The Zimbabwe Briefing which focuses on the Zambian elections held on August 12, 2021.
In coming up with this edition, we are motivated by the fact that there are a lot of positives that Zimbabwe can draw for the Zambian elections.
This is so especially in light of the fact that Zimbabwe has witnessed a series of elections that have largely failed the credibility test; elections that have been characterized by murder, torture, abductions and arbitrary arrests of opposition party members, an unfair playing field that has largely been as a result of the ruling party, Zanu PF’s overbearing influence on the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) among other ills that have worked against free, fair and credible elections in Zimbabwe.
For ZEC, there are lessons to be learnt on the conduct of elections in the midst of the Covid 19 pandemic. The Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) exhibited high levels of professionalism and transparency and ensured that the voters’ roll was availed to all contesting parties and ZEC must take a leaf from ECZ on this.
The issue of the smooth handover of power that was witnessed in Zambia (the third time that Zambia witnessed a smooth handover of power from the ruling party to the opposition) is something that remains alien in the politics of Zimbabwe.
The military involvement in politics has been the major obstacle to a smooth transition in Zimbabwe and this has been confirmed by sentiments from high-ranking government officials and politicians within the ranks of the ruling party, Zanu PF.
What happened in Zambia ought to be emulated in SADC states. The will of the people must be respected and it is in light of this that we take this opportunity to remind SADC member states that democracy must prevail over the gun.
The military must learn to respect election outcomes and stay away from partisan politics.
For civic society organisations, there are lessons to be learnt on voter mobilization.
The huge turnout of voters during the Zambian elections has also been attributed to the efforts of civil society organisations and this should serve as a lesson that ahead of the 2023 elections in Zambia, civil society organisations in Zimbabwe must play a meaningful role in voter mobilization as well as holding ZEC to account.
We can make it possible.