Electoral Management Bodies (EMBs) are critical institutions in electoral governance whose mandate is to conduct periodic, free and fair elections. These institutions bring about procedural certainty to the electoral process by ensuring a level playing field for all political actors. Stakeholder perceptions of EMBs tend to be largely sharped by whether or not they believe that that EMB are fully independent institutions, both on paper and in practice. This in turn affects how the elections they conduct are to be accepted by all stakeholders. Where, EMBs are perceived to be biased, their independence will be questioned by stakeholders and the institutions will lose their integrity fair guardians and referees of the electoral process among the stakeholders. This study, therefore, seeks to evaluate how the independence of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ)can affect their operations, the right to vote, accountability processes and stakeholder perceptions. This is premised on the assumption that both the ECZ and ZEC have been accused by stakeholders of bending to political pressure of the ruling elites and being biased in their discharge of their constitutional mandates.
A socio-legal case study analyses approach shall be applied in this study. Data for the research will be collected through semi-structured interviews and secondary data.. The data for the semi-structured interviews will be collected from key informants purposively sampled because of their knowledge on the subject.
The study is premised on the assumptions that: Independent Election Management Bodies whose members are appointed in a transparent and inclusive manner are a key component in the consolidation of democracy and bringing about procedural certainty that guarantees uncertainty of outcomes.
Adequate and timeous funding enhances the independence of electoral management bodies.
Electoral Management Bodies that report to the Legislature are perceived to be more independent by stakeholders.
EMBs in both Zambia and Zimbabwe are products of the economic, social, political and legal context that established them; in other words, their perceived independence extends well beyond their legal legitimacy.