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Accreditation of local and foreign observers
The accreditation as observers of local and foreign persons and organisations is covered in Part IXB of the Electoral Act. (Sections 40G-40J)
ZEC accredits observers. It has an accreditation committee for this purpose. The committee has on it the following persons:
- the ZEC chairperson who will chair this committee;
- the ZEC deputy-chairperson;
- three ZEC Commissioners designated by ZEC;
- one person nominated by the Office of President and Cabinet;
- one person nominated by the Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs;
- one person nominated by the Minister responsible for foreign affairs;
- one person nominated by the Minister responsible for immigration.
- Decisions of this Committee are deemed to be decisions of ZEC unless the Commission amends or rescinds them.
Persons wishing to observe elections must apply to the ZEC. There is a prescribed fee for accreditation. If the applications are successful they will then be accredited as observers. Accredited observers are entitled to observe during the election period. Basically the election period is defined in the Electoral Act as the period between the calling of the election and the declaration of the result of the Presidential election or the last result of other elections such as constituency elections.
Subject to such conditions as may be prescribed, accredited observers may do any of the following things during the election period:
- observe the election process;
- observe the conduct of the polling;
- be present at the counting or collating of votes cast and the verification of polling station returns by presiding officers;
- bring any irregularity or apparent irregularity in the conduct of the poll or the counting or collating of the votes to the attention of the Commission.
ZEC will decide whether to approve and accredit the following categories of persons:
- individuals representing foreign countries or international organisations and foreign eminent persons who apply to ZEC for
- individuals representing local organisations and eminent persons from within Zimbabwe
ZEC may also invite and accredit individuals to observe elections who represent bodies that exercise functions similar to those of the Commission. ZEC will also accredit:
- individuals representing foreign countries or international organisations and foreign eminent persons who have been invited by the Minister responsible for foreign affairs to observe any election; and
- individuals representing local organisations and eminent persons from within Zimbabwe who have been invited by the Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs to observe any election.
Every observer must be furnished with a copy of, or made aware of the contents of; the code of conduct for observers.
Every observer shall exhibit his or her accreditation certificate to any electoral officer who demands to see it.
Not more than the prescribed number of observers will be permitted:
- to enter or remain at any polling station;
- to be present for the counting or collating of votes at a polling station or constituency centre.
Code of Conduct
This code relates to both election agents and observers. The summary of the Code that follows leaves out reference to party agents.
- generally, conduct himself or herself in a manner conducive to the peaceful, dignified and orderly conduct of the poll;
- wear a badge or label bearing proof that he or she has been duly accredited when in a polling station, constituency centre or ward or council centre;
- obey every lawful instruction of an electoral officer.
Observer must not:
- hinder or obstruct an electoral officer in the lawful conduct of his or her functions
- do anything which compromises the secrecy of the ballot;
- obstruct or accost any voter at a polling station or on his or her way there;
- interview any voter at a polling station;
- wear a prohibited symbol or a symbol indicating any affiliation with a candidate or political party participating in the poll;
- in any other way canvass for any candidate or political party.
If an observer considers that there has been any irregularity in the conduct of the poll or the counting of the votes, the observer must bring such irregularity or apparent irregularity to the attention of the presiding officer or constituency elections officer at the polling station, constituency centre or ward or council centre concerned.