THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) yesterday met with representatives of the three main political parties – Zanu-PF, MDC-T and MDC – in Bulawayo to draft a code of conduct for all parties ahead of the 2018 harmonised elections.
The code of conduct seeks to come up with guidelines to deal with election-related violence, hate speech, disqualification of candidates accused of fanning violence and transmission of election results, among others.
MDC-T secretary-general, Douglas Mwonzora said the engagements were meant to give teeth to the political parties’ code of conduct.
“This is a workshop of political parties at a high-level platform. We are discussing a number of things and the first one is the code of conduct of the political parties. We are revising the current code of conduct of the political parties to make it more comprehensive and more effective,” Mwonzora said.
This follows concerns raised by human rights watchdogs, the clergy and the opposition that the 2018 elections were likely to be marred by political violence.
MDC spokesperson, Kuraone Chihwayi said: “This is an important capacity building workshop that will bring opposition parties closer to each other. We need a code of conduct that will lay the ground for free and fair elections.”
Zimbabwe’s elections have since independence been marred by political violence, with the ruling Zanu-PF activists accused of being the main culprits.
In 2008, MDC-T leader, Morgan Tsvangirai was forced to abort participating in a presidential run-off election against President Robert Mugabe following a campaign of violence against his supporters that left scores dead, hundreds displaced and thousands injured.
Meanwhile, Zec deputy chairperson, Emmanuel Magade yesterday urged the media to expose poll-related shortcomings to encourage accountability and transparency.
Addressing journalists in Darwendale, he said a vibrant media was ideal for credible elections.
“You have an important oversight role and you must hold us to account in a fair, temperate, measured and responsible manner.
A cheeky and vibrant Press is an asset to any society that aspires to be democratic.
“So when you hold us to account and when you ask penetrating and probing questions, you are doing so on behalf of not only employers, but the good citizens of this country. We urge you to sleep with one eye open,” he said.
Magade said that the media should be responsible and avoid being hijacked for reasons other than its core mandate.