ZESN and ERC condemn arrests of staff

Libinance Dokora

Elections Resource Centre (ERC) and Zimbabwe Elections Support Network (ZESN) have expressed concern over the arrests of their staff members in raids conducted by the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) at Holiday Inn Hotel and Grange in Harare.


On the night of August 3, the police raided the election observation centers of the two organizations, confiscated smartphones and laptops, and arrested staff members on allegations of illegally sharing election results on social media.


In a joint statement, Elections Resource Centre (ERC) and Zimbabwe Elections Support Network (ZESN) voiced their displeasure regarding the arrests and the confiscation of smartphones and laptops during the law enforcement raids.


“We are concerned about the raids on the ERC and ZESN Data centers and the arbitrary arrests of staff members who were collecting electoral information by law enforcement agents,” the statement read.


The organizations went on to express that their security is now compromised, and the arrests and raids by the police have disrupted their ability to efficiently carry out their election observation activities.


“The safety of the broader ERC and ZESN family, including members, observers, partners, and volunteers, has been compromised,” they added.


“At this point, ERC and ZESN’s ability to promote transparency and accountability in the elections has been significantly undermined,” the statement continued.


ERC and ZESN further asserted that their operations are legal and in accordance with the electoral Act, which allows accredited organizations to observe elections.


“Our operations are well within the boundaries of the law. The data centers play a crucial role in recording information about polling day processes, updates, and critical incidents throughout the electoral cycle. This information allows ERC and ZESN to assess the credibility of the elections, as stipulated in section 40 G of the electoral Act,” the statement read.


Both organizations emphasized their independence and non-partisanship, highlighting their accreditation to observe elections and support peaceful democratic processes in Zimbabwe.

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