CIVIL society organisations under the banner of Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) intending to march and petition Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) and Justice ministry were yesterday blocked in Africa Unity Square in Harare by the police and only restricted to petition Parliament.
Several organisations and activists had gathered in Africa Unity Square for a march to force the government to implement their desired electoral reforms ahead of this year’s elections. CiZC chairperson, Rashid Mahiya said although they were happy to have managed to petition Parliament, it was worrying that their intended march would not go ahead.
“Police stood in the way of us marching because we wanted to march and petition not only Parliament of Zimbabwe. We also wanted to petition the Justice ministry and Zec, but we were only allowed to petition Parliament,” he said.
The placard-waving activists and members from different organisations representing churches, labour, students and social movements expressed unhappiness over the restriction, as they sang and gave solidarity speeches under police watch.
In a petition deposed at Parliament, Mahiya said without the desired reforms, the country was likely headed for disputed polls.
“Since the takeover of the State through a military coup, there has been an unwarranted ubiquitous presence of the military in all spheres of the State, including public spaces and a glaring interference with the day to day duties of other entities such as local authorities,” the petition read.
“That the State has literally been captured by the military and that critical autonomous entities such as Zec have been compromised and cannot execute their mandate independently.
“That Zec continues to conduct its business in an opaque manner by failing to avail the full and detailed 2018 election personnel who are at the centre of key election processes in the spirit of transparency and accountability.”
CiZC demanded the military to reassert its commitment to upholding and protecting the constitution with respect to elections and electoral processes and that Zec conducts itself in a transparent, accountable, professional, non-partisan and autonomous manner in all electoral processes.
CiZC also demanded that Zec, through its designated committees and other concerned authorities, give unfettered access to key electoral processes to local, regional and international observers without undue restrictions such as imposition of prohibitive accreditation fees, criminalisation of domestic observers or cherry picking or regional and international ones.
The organisation also demanded that police and prosecuting authorities allow civil society organisations and citizens to carry out their lawful activities without harassment, raids, restrictions and unwarranted arrests.