By Alex Bell
SW Radio Africa
08 January 2013
The ZANU PF government has been warned against reinstating the postal voting system, because such a move could ‘erode’ some of the positive gains achieved since the adoption of the new constitution.
The government is set to scrap the special vote system used during the elections last year and reinstate postal voting, if the Electoral Amendment Bill published in the Government Gazette last week is passed into law
The special vote was introduced during the tenure of the unity government, amid concerns about the transparency of postal voting. The new system gave government workers and members of the disciplined forces an opportunity to vote before polling day on July 31st.
The special vote was fraught with irregularities, mainly because of the short time frame between the announcement of the election date and the vote itself.
But according to monitoring group the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN), the special vote is still preferable to postal voting because it is easier to conduct checks and balances.
ZESN Chairperson Dr. Solomon Zwana told SW Radio Africa that “postal voting is a cause for concern in terms of transparency.”
“Our fear is that postal voting could be abused. We do believe there is room for improvement for the special vote, and it should be given a chance and not done away with,” Dr. Zwana said.
Meanwhile, there are concerns that this planned amendment is the start of more changes to the constitution. With a return to majority control in Parliament, ZANU PF is able to amend the new constitution to suit its own purposes, and there have been concerns that some sections of the charter will be under threat.
The new charter was the result of years of negotiation, disagreement and eventual compromise on the part of ZANU PF’s previous partners in the unity government.
Under the new constitution, previously overreaching presidential powers had been limited, while new reforms that enhance human rights had also been introduced.