Concern grows over flawed Electoral Bill

MDC-T Senator Morgan Komichi

By Nomalanga Moyo
SW Radio Africa
04 April 2014

The Electoral Amendment Bill is a “flawed document” which parliament should not pass until proper consultations have been made, poll observer groups have said.

The Bill controversially sailed through the Senate on Thursday, despite protestations from opposition MDC-T lawmakers who had staged a walk-out the day before.

MDC-T Senator Morgan Komichi later said the walk-out was a reaction to the “speed with which the ZANU PF administration was bulldozing the Bill through the House without taking their proposals on board.

On Friday, two civil society groups described the Electoral Bill as unconstitutional and urged parliamentarians to block it until the public have been consulted.

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) said it was concerned that “this important piece of legislation that will inform future elections” had been “hurried” through Senate without involving interested Zimbabweans.

“Adequate consultations with the public and other stakeholders are vital to ensure comprehensive alignment of the Bill with the new Constitution,” ZESN said in a statement.

The Election Resource Centre also noted several “deficiencies” in the Bill, which would “render it unable to positively influence a change in the architecture of electoral management in Zimbabwe”.

The two civic groups note that the Electoral Bill is vague on what constitutes voter education, and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) remains answerable to the justice ministry, in violation of the constitution.

Another concern is that the Bill denies the right to vote to Diaspora-based Zimbabweans, or those in hospital or prison.

In its post-poll review conference held last month, ZEC also proposed changes to the conduct of elections in the country but these, too have been left out of the Bill.

The head of Election Resource Centre, Tawanda Chimhini, said they have launched a “Why Rush – Give Us Time” petition to try and put pressure on the justice ministry to reconsider.

“The Electoral Bill does not address the numerous challenges which were noted by various observer missions during the 2013 elections and acknowledged by ZEC.

“The Bill is weak and has unacceptable errors that betray little seriousness on the part of the drafters,” Chimhini said.

“In its current form the Bill will not take Zimbabwe forward in terms of electoral reforms and if it is passed we intend to challenge its constitutionality in court.”

Chimhini said to avoid passing into law such “flawed documents” the public should be allowed to participate and have a say in any Bill that is brought before parliament, in accordance with the constitution.

“The problem with this Bill, as with all our electoral laws, is that it weakens rather than strengthens systems and as long as these are allowed to exist, we won’t have credible or acceptable elections in this country,” Chimhini added.

He said they hoped that MPs from both sides of the political divide will show the same unity and energy in rejecting the Bill just as they have done on corruption.

The Electoral Bill is one of several other pieces of legislation that have to be aligned with the country’s new constitution which was adopted last year.

Hopes were high that the new charter, campaigned for by the three political parties in the unity government which ended last year, would usher in a new era of constitutionality in Zimbabwe.

The constitution limits the president’s stay in power. The charter also provides for security sector and media reforms and creates institutions that (in theory) are supposed to promote democracy, peace, transparency and accountability.

But there is no specified timeframe within which old laws should be aligned with the constitution, a loophole that ZANU PF is taking advantage of.

Without the called-for changes and reforms, there is real fear that ZANU PF will continue using these institutions to rig and manipulate the electoral process, just as it did in 2013.

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7 Responsesto “Concern grows over flawed Electoral Bill”

  1. Chimbwido Warvet says:

    Well, it is just a waste of our time to debate about a bill that has aready sailed through the Senate of this country. The majority in senate approved the bill. As far as we are concerned that is what is fundamentally important. If the bill is signed into law by the Head of State and government, that will be it. Ok madofo?

    • Wilbert Mukori says:

      Mugabe rigged the 2013 elections and of course both parliament and senate are there to rubber stamp the tyrant’s wishes!

      • Chimbwido Warvet says:

        Everything that is penned down be within a context. It should not be a mumbo jumbo but relevant to the subject under review. As far as I am concerned, the 2013 elections are now water under the bridge. The winners and losers are known world over and some of us have since forgotten that we once had elections last year. And the Zimbabwean people are getting on with their own lives without having sleepless nights over who won and lost the elections.

        Right now the subject for discussion is about the bill that has sailed through Senate and will in all likelihood be signed into law by the Head of State and government, Robert Mugabe. That is the subject for debate we should focus our attention right now. Ok dununu?

        • Common Sense says:

          So, would you be saying the same thing if the MDC was in the Senate majority and created a Bill that you didn’t like and meant ZANU-PF would never get into power again….

          That is the real topic of debate

          • Chimbwido Warvet says:

            I am not going to speculate what I would have said in this matter. I would have liked to cross the bridge when I got there and not to dwell on hypothesis. Only prophets Makandiwa and Engels can prophesy and give an accurate response to your query. Lord Jesus Christ has not given me the power to prophesy like these prophets mate.

        • Yepec says:

          They did a good job on you. Even with something that a challenged person can tell, Chimbwido Warvet does not hear or see anything wrong with Zanu PF or Robert Mugabe It is typically of the praise singers.

          Now that Nikuv is one up on you, for it has seven rigs of fake ballot papers for the 2018 elections sitting out there at the port of Durban. One wonders why one has to go to such length on elections one swears can easily win? What is the purpose, staying in power and puts one’s praise singers and stooges in the House of Assembly and the Senate?.Whatever happened to the notion of putting the interests of one’s country first?

          With the Electoral Bill being emasculated and the laws of the country not having been yet aligned to the to new Constitution, Zimbabwe, has been coup de tared, therefore, who needs Rita Makarau and her Electoral Commission? Elections are going be run from the Zanu Headquarters, hence, Nikuv’s new Offices in KG VI Barracks and the fake, ballot papers in Durban coming into the country.

          When was the strategy made, Chimbwido Warvet?

          • Chimbwido Warvet says:

            Cowards live in fear of imagined enemies. Nobody my constituency is thinking about the 2018 elections but are in the process of nation building after the disastrous electoral loss by the MDC-T. We do not have the luxury of talking over elections that are still four years away instead of debating on how we should feed the nation. That should be the subject for serious debate and not about NIKIV, and other nonsense you have alluded to.

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