By Nomalanga Moyo
SW Radio Africa
02 April 2014
MDC-T senators walked out of parliament Tuesday in protest over the exclusion of their proposals from the Electoral Amendment Bill.
The Bill is one of several other pieces of legislation that have to be aligned with the country’s new constitution adopted last year.
Among other issues, the opposition lawmakers want the Justice Ministry to revisit Section 40 (c) of the Electoral Act which prohibits anyone else except the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission from conducting voter education.
The senators also want the Bill to be clear about who should be the final authority on voter registration – ZEC or the office of the Registrar-General.
Senator Morgan Komichi said they realised during the proceedings that Deputy Justice Minister Fortune Chasi who presented the Bill was not taking their concerns seriously, hence the walk out.
“This is an ugly, undemocratic Bill which represents ZANU PF in all respects and that is what we are protesting,” Komichi told SW Radio Africa Wednesday.
“As senators we want ZEC to be independent of the justice ministry, and also to have its own voters roll. In that Bill, the Electoral Commission doesn’t have any power over the voters roll or even to hire or fire its own chief executive which makes the chairperson of the body just a stooge.”
The senator said their concerns stem from the events in the 2013 elections when it became apparent that the Rita Makarau-headed ZEC wasn’t the one in charge of the polls.
He said it is clear from the way the Bill is being handled that the ZANU PF government has no intention to democratise the electoral process.
“Without the changes we are proposing, the registrar-general will continue to run the elections and this violates the new constitution.”
Komichi said he did not think the walk-out by at least 20 senators would change anything, but they did it “for the record”.
“We want people to know that we raised these issues and did not just sit back. ZANU PF has the majority in both Houses and they will use this advantage to entrench systems that help them to retain power.
Komichi said the ruling regime knows that without these systems that tilt the political ground in their favour, they will be out of power.
“That is why they do not want to give people the right to choose their own leaders or to vote because they know once they do that, they will be out of power.”
The Bill will now go to the Lower House following its Third Reading at the Senate on Wednesday, where Komichi thinks it will sail through regardless of objections.
Other contentious points raised by the MDC lawmakers include allowing postal votes from Zimbabweans based outside the country, as well as allowing equal media coverage for all political parties by the State media.
ZANU PF has also steadfastly refused to reform the country’s security sector which continues to prop up President Robert Mugabe’s hold on power.