By Tererai Karimakwenda
SW Radio Africa
30 May 2014
The views expressed by Zimbabweans and several legislators in parliament were ignored by Justice Minister, Emmerson Mnangagwa, who on Thursday went to great lengths to bulldoze the Electoral Amendment Bill through the house without any proposed changes.
MP Innocent Gonese, who sits on the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs, described how Mnangagwa manipulated the voting process in parliament, making sure the Electoral Bill passed without any of the reforms that would bring it in line with the new Constitution.
Gonese told SW Radio Africa that after the second reading of the Bill, the chairman of the Portfolio Committee presented a report that also contained several recommendations made by legislators. The proposed reforms were echoed by several members of the House, including Gonese, who is the MDC-T chief whip.
“The Minister’s response was quite emphatic at that point in time that he was not going to entertain any proposals or any amendments. He practically rejected everything that was being proposed after that second reading. It became quite clear that no amendments were going to be formally adopted, because of the attitude already exhibited,” Gonese said.
He explained that the presiding officer who oversaw the voting took advantage of the way MPs sit according to their political affiliation. Voting was done by shouting “yay” or “nay” and a quick visual count saw the Electoral Bill sail through without any proposed changes.
Gonese said one of proposed amendments was to allow Zimbabweans the right to vote regardless of where they are, be it in the diaspora, in the hospital or in prison.
Another key amendment ignored by Mnangagwa involved the voters’ roll, which according to the new Constitution should be compiled and managed by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC). But the Bill that passed stipulates that this remains the responsibility of the Registrar General, a ZANU PF appointee and supporter.
“It looks like they are going to use their majority to railroad and bulldoze their way through and not listen to any voices of reason or dissent,” Gonese fumed.
The Bill now awaits a signature from Robert Mugabe before it is formally adopted as law.