Voter education

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Below is an outline of the functions of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) in regard to Voter education as drafted by the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) in the recently launched Draft Comprehensive Electoral Amendment Bill.

 

In this Part—

“foreign contribution or donation” means a contribution or donation made by—

 

(a) a person who is not a permanent resident or citizen of Zimbabwe domiciled in

Zimbabwe; or

(b) a company which is not incorporated in Zimbabwe or, if so incorporated, does not carry

on business in Zimbabwe; or

(c) any association of persons, whether incorporated or unincorporated, that does not consist

exclusively of permanent residents or citizens of Zimbabwe, domiciled in Zimbabwe;

“local contribution or donation” means a contribution or donation that is not a foreign contribution

or donation;

“voter education” means any course or programme of instruction on electoral law and procedure

aimed at voters generally and not offered as part of a course in law or civics or any other

subject for students at an educational institution;

 

“voter education materials” means printed, aural, visual or audio-visual materials intended for use

in voter education.

 

Functions of Commission with respect to voter education

(1) The Commission shall have the following functions with respect to voter education—

(a) to provide adequate, accurate, gender awareness and unbiased voter education; and

(b) to ensure that voter education provided by other persons is adequate and not misleading or

biased in favour of any political party and complies with the electoral code of conduct for

political parties and candidates prescribed in the Second Schedule; and

 

(2) The Commission shall produce its own voter education materials for use in the provision of

voter education.

 

(3) The Commission may permit any person to assist it in providing voter education.

 

Provision of voter education by Commission

(1) The Commission shall provide programmes of voter education to ensure that, so far as

practicable, voters understand electoral procedures and the ways in which they may exercise their right to vote.

(2) The Government shall give the Commission any assistance it may require in providing

programmes referred to in subsection (1).

 

(3) Subsection (1) shall not be construed as preventing persons other than the Commission from

providing voter education in accordance with this Part.

55 Commission to monitor voter education by other persons

 

(1) The Commission shall—

(a) promote the provision of courses and programmes on voter education by persons and

organisations in Zimbabwe so that the education reaches as many voters as possible; and

 

(b) monitor courses and programmes of voter education provided by such persons in order to

ensure that they are adequate, accurate and fairly balanced.

 

(2) If the Commission considers that any programme of voter education is—

(a) false, in that the information provided by it is materially false or incorrect; or

(b) misleading, in that while the programme purports to be impartial it is materially and unfairly biased in favour of or against a political party or candidate contesting the election; and that the programme is likely to prevent a substantial number of voters from making an informed political choice in an election, the Commission may by written notice direct every person responsible for providing and publishing the programme to cease providing or publishing it or to make such alterations to it as the Commission may specify to render it accurate and fair.

(3) Before giving a direction under subsection (2), the Commission shall afford every person

responsible for providing and publishing the programme concerned an adequate opportunity to make representations in the matter:

Provided that, if the Commission believes on reasonable grounds that delay in giving a direction under subsection (2) will prejudice the efficiency or fairness of any election, the Commission may give the directive and then afford the person concerned an adequate opportunity to make representations as to why the direction should be rescinded or amended.

(4) A person to whom a direction has been given under subsection (2) shall immediately take all necessary steps to comply with the direction.

(5) Any person who contravenes subsection (4) shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding level six or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year or to both such fine and such imprisonment.

 

-ZESN

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