ZIMBABWE is still to comply with international best practice in conducting elections in areas of equal access to the media, voter education and political environment, according to the Election Resource’s Centre (ERC) newly-launched research Election Reform Barometer.
Newsday 28th September 2017
by PAIDAMOYO MUZULU
The barometer was launched in Harare on Tuesday at an event attended by parliamentarians, commissioners from independent commissions and civil society organisations. “Access to media remained fundamentally skewed in terms of equity and equal access. There was predominance of the ruling Zanu PF in State media, which has the widest reach in Zimbabwe. While Zanu PF had favourable and dominant coverage in State media, they also enjoyed equal coverage in independent media although not always favourable,” the barometer said.
The report said there had, however, been some improvement in voter registration. “A majority of the indicators fell short of meeting the minimum level assessment criteria. Voter registration and political environment made the most progress although still below expected standards, while voter education and access to media remained significantly below expectation,” the report said.The report comes less than a year before Zimbabwe is due to hold general elections and the electoral processes have started. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) last week launched the biometric voter registration programme.
However, the programme has been blighted by low numbers of people registering, the machines malfunction or the centres run out of forms for people to register. Opposition parties have condemned the chaotic exercise underwent at only 63 district centres across the country and urged Zec to immediately roll out the registration blitz. Media organisations that attended the launch of the barometer, Misa-Zimbabwe and Media Alliance of Zimbabwe, said the government should urgently review the Broadcasting Services Act and add a function the Zimbabwe Media Commission of monitoring the media. They recommended that ZBC should concentrate on being a public broadcaster and give equal and equitable access to all political players during the campaign period.