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Zimbabwe Civil Society in Sorry State, Unable to Play Watchdog Role

Zimbabwe Elections Resource Centre director, Tawanda Chimhinhi, said it was imperative for civil society to invest in the creation of responsible citizens. (Photo: ZESN)

Political analyst, Philani Zamchiya, says the Zimbabwe civil society is in a sorry state and unable to play its watchdog role, provide civic education and mobilize citizens to push the country towards a democratic agenda.

Speaking during a meeting organized by the Zimbabwe Election Support Network, to discuss the just-ended Zambian elections, Zamchiya said while in Zambia the civil society had done well in watching the democratic conduct of those who wanted to take power, this was not happening in this country which is preparing for by-elections in Chirumanzu and Mt. Darwin.

He said civic organizations tend to conduct issues like voter education as a once off matter.

He said Zimbabwe must have a strong civil society that creates conscious citizens who do not have to be told to register to vote.

He said lack of civic education in Zimbabwe has also been largely because most of the civic education has been conducted in urban areas and growth points leaving out many people in remote areas.

Zamchiya said the major difference between the civil society in Zambia and Zimbabwe is that local civic organizations are bent of creating voters instead of citizens.

Zimbabwe Elections Resource Centre director, Tawanda Chimhinhi, echoed the same sentiments, saying it was imperative for civil society to invest in the creation of responsible citizens.

Chimhini noted that Zimbabwe has a lot to learn from Zambia saying the Electoral Commission in Zimbabwe’s northern neighbor held a fairly transparent presidential election.

He said as the country prepares for by-elections next month, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission must consider reform so that it can distribute the voters roll to stakeholders freely and that journalists and observers be accredited free of charge to ensure transparency.

Chimhini said given the financial constraints affecting the local elections body, time has come has come for the Electoral Commission to consider funding from development partners as happened in Zambia.

Zimbabwean law does not allow the funding of elections by the foreigners.

The Zambian elections held on January 20, following the death of President Michael Sata were won by Edgar Lungu. The opposition says Lungu stole the vote.

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