By Alex Bell
15 March 2013
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) in Friday admitted it had made an ‘error’ in not accrediting some human rights groups ahead of the weekend referendum.
ZEC was reacting to a legal challenge filed by the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights), whose application for accreditation had previously been dismissed on the grounds that the group was facing ‘criminal investigation’.
ZEC and ZimRights met on Friday and came to an agreement that the group could apply for accreditation. ZimRights’ legal representative, Tawanda Zhuwarara told SW Radio Africa that this was an “admission of wrongdoing,” that was approved by the High Court on Friday.
“ZEC made a consent order at the High Court meaning that their decision to refuse to accredit ZimRights was set aside. We have filed accreditation papers and the full accreditation committee is meeting to decide what will happen. The court order stipulated that a decision needed to be made before Saturday’s referendum,” Zhuwarara.
Also waiting for accreditation before Saturday’s vote is the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) whose director Jestina Mukoko was last week formally charged as part of a police crackdown on civic society. The ZPP submitted its accreditation papers on Thursday and by the time of going to print Friday there was still no word of what ZEC’s decision would be.
Meanwhile the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) has said it has deployed about 600 observers across the country ahead of the referendum. ZESN chairperson Solomon Zwana told SW Radio Africa that the group remains concerned that there has not been enough time for Zimbabweans to study the draft constitution.
“One of our fears is that we are going to a referendum with many people not having a clue about what is in the charter. We will be monitoring the process to see if it is free and fair,” Zwana said.
ZESN has set up hotlines for citizens to share their views and comments about the referendum. Those numbers are: 0774584669, 0715596701, and 0738918420.
Zimbabweans can also participate on ZESN’s social media platforms https://www.facebook.com/pages/Zimbabwe-Election-Support-NetworkZESN, Twitter handle: #ZESN1 and Blog: www.blogspot.zesnblog.com.