The ZEC is expected to carry out a delimitation exercise for the 2023 elections and preparations related to this have already begun with ZEC internal staff capacity building and stakeholder engagements on voter education for delimitation. EISA plays an important role in the provision of technical assistance during these preparations. Although ZEC started some stakeholder consultation and voter education for delimitation, enabling legislation for this exercise is equally important. Electoral stakeholders, particularly political parties are still polarised and there is no expressed desire to engage progressively. This has proven counterproductive to the electoral reform agenda and regular engagement between ZEC and stakeholders. Institutions supporting democracy such as the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) have not been able to make progress insofar as stakeholder engagement is concerned because of this polarisation at the high level.
EISA is being funded by DfID, through a grant being managed by the Transparency, Responsiveness, Accountability, and Citizen Engagement (TRACE). The period under review covers achievements related to project initiation meetings with the ZEC, ongoing interaction with the donor including a due diligence assessment and capacity building exercise, finalisation of project monitoring tools with the donor as well as the implementation of some planned activities.
After a long wait a EISA received approval from the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and Ministry of Finance to provide financial and technical support to the ZEC. The approval was required for EISA's support to the ZEC to be implemented. During this period, EISA also managed to develop and agree with the ZEC the areas it wanted EISA to provide support on within the TRACE project. These activities include capacity building of ZEC staff on the expected delimitation exercise as well as voter education for ongoing by-elections.
EISA provided technical support to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission's (ZEC) two-day workshop held on the 23 and24 January 2020on voter education materials development for boundary delimitation exercise in preparation of the 2023 elections in line with the constitutional requirements. The ZEC Chief Electoral Officer, senior ZEC officials, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and creative designers took part in the development of the materials. The material developed is aimed at ensuring public participation for the delimitation process. This is important given the fact that Zimbabwe last conducted a delimitation exercise in 2007 for the 2008 elections. Since then there have been population changes which have seen constituency and ward sizes vary greatly, an issue that affects the equality of votes that required by the Constitution.
In line with its support to ZEC's voter education mandate, EISA supported the pilot testing of voter education materials in Ward 15 of Mwenezi District in Masvingo Province from 29 to 31 January 2020 in preparation for the by-election that took place on 8 February 2020. This was in response to several local observer groups observation of insufficient voter education in the run-up to the 2018 harmonised elections as well as ongoing by-elections. This lack of voter information is attributed partly to voter apathy. The conduct of the pilot in a real-life situation enabled ZEC and EISA to evaluate the materials and identify any changes to be made in advance of future by-elections. The materials covered such themes as the reasons for the by-election; eligibility to vote; location of the polling stations; and the requirements on voting day for one to vote. The intervention reached 65% of the Ward.
In response to constitutional amendments underway in Zimbabwe, EISA provided technical support to the ZEC district, provincial and national level staff training on the forthcoming ZEC delimitation exercise. The training programmes were conducted as follows: 19-21 February 2020: Harare, Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East, Mashonaland West and Manicaland;21-23 February 2020: Head Office personnel; and 25-26 February 2020: Bulawayo, Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South, Masvingo and Midlands. The training was done in a clustered approach to ensure that personnel from all provinces were included. The workshop provided staff of ZEC at all levels with the relevant information and are themselves knowledge regrading delimitation and to enable them to cascade the information and knowledge acquired to ZEC staff in their respective provinces Further, the knowledge will enable the ZEC secretariat to competently engage with electoral stakeholders on ZEC's strategic plan and constitutional development relating to delimitation.
Ms Antonetta Handimashe (Programme Officer) - antonetta[at]eisa.org
22 Airdrie Road, Eastlea, Harare
The programme is funded by the Department for International Development (DfID)