Japan gives ZEC US$1,44m to build polls capacity Japanese Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Satoshi Tanaka (left) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative Ms Verity Nyagah sign documents during the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission capacity building project ZIM-ECO phase two signing ceremony in Harare yesterday. — Picture: Memory Mangombe

Farirai Machivenyika Senior Reporter

The United Nations yesterday expressed confidence in the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s ability to successfully conduct the harmonised elections to be held later this year, with Japan giving US$1,44 million to the United Nations Development Programme for the next phase of building capacity in ZEC.

UN country pepresentative Mr Edward Kallon gave Zimbabwe the thumbs up at a signing ceremony of the agreement between the Japanese government and the UNDP for the ZEC capacity building project phase two being implemented by the world body at the request of ZEC to help ensure that practical steps are in place for voter registration and education, and to make it easier for women, youths and those living with disabilities to exercise their right to vote.

The agreement was signed by Japan’s ambassador to Zimbabwe, Satoshi Tanaka and Mr Kallon while ZEC deputy chairperson, Commissioner Rodney Kiwa represented the Commission.

“The UN is well aware of concerns raised against the 2023 elections especially the possibility of violence and I want to take this opportunity to reiterate the calls that have been made across the political spectrum for peaceful elections and to reiterate the UN call on all member States to adhere to international obligations related to elections and to call on all parties to respect the process and rules and mechanisms and channel disputes in a peaceful manner to the appropriate dispute resolution mechanisms.

“I am very hopeful that ZEC will rise to this challenge of organising successfully the harmonised elections and this partnership is a demonstration of our readiness to be on the side of Zimbabwean authorities and the people of Zimbabwe throughout the electoral process,” he said.

Mr Kallon said the signing of the funding agreement would support activities in key areas that include bio-metric voter registration, voter education, enhance participation of women and enhance access for people with disabilities.

“The significance of the signing goes beyond financial contribution. It is an affirmation of the strong partnership around the electoral processes, a partnership to which ZEC is central and in partnership with other electoral stakeholders including Government ministries notably the Ministries of Finance and Economic Development, of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs,” he said.

In his remarks, Ambassador Tanaka their support would go towards an inclusive election.

“In its international cooperation, Japan emphasises inclusivity, because a country’s development can only be sustainable if everyone, including women and people with disabilities, take part. Especially for elections, equal participation is essential.

“It is also very important for youth to take part, because it is they who have a major stake in the outcome of an election that will shape policies and governance in Zimbabwe for years to come,” he said.

Commissioner Kiwa thanked the Japanese government for their support towards the country’s electoral processes through the ZIM-ECO Project since its first phase in 2016.

“We are grateful for the financial support which is coming at a critical time as preparations for the 2023 harmonised elections are being undertaken,” Commissioner Kiwa said.

The ZIM-ECO2 Project will run until 2024.

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