Opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) has called for a mandatory provision in the Electoral Amendment Bill that calls for the recognition of the diaspora vote and that of prisoners.
The Bill was gazetted at the end of 2022 amid wide criticism for lacking the input from political players and election watchdogs. Among a litany of changes, the Bill seeks disqualification of previously convicted persons from contesting in national elections.
Speaking during a press conference in Harare Tuesday afternoon, Binga North legislator Prince Dubeko Sibanda said the Bill does not talk about disenfranchised citizens.
“We all remember that one of the issue that pushed this country into the liberation struggle was universal suffrage to make sure that every citizen of a qualifying age can participate in the determination of who is going to govern this Bill does not talk about disenfranchised citizens in terms of elections. We have got a number of citizens that are disenfranchised and on top of them is the diaspora.
“Statistics indicate that we have between four and seven million Zimbabwean citizens that are resident outside the country. We appreciate the challenges that we have that are raised by other voters to the extent that they cannot vote for a Councillor, Member of Parliament because of the residents requirements however we have seen in other jurisdictions here in Africa those that are in the diaspora being allowed to participate at least in the Presidential elections, Why? Because the Constituency for the Presidential election is the entire country so the residence issue does not arise.
“The other disenfranchised population is that of prisoners, we believe that it might be impossible to make every prisoner to vote we believe that there are prisoners who are serving long term sentences, those an administrative action can be taken to ensure that they exercise their right to vote,” said Sibanda.
CCC Sibanda said called for the involvement of agents of participating candidates in the announcement of Presidential results.
“We have also made a proposal that the procurement, design and security of the ballot paper should be agreed upon by the contestants and again that is the best practice that we have seen happening in our neighbours jurisdictions. We also believe that Section 110 subsection 3 especially paragraph C especially paragraph F of the current Act needs to be amended in the sense that collation, addition and tabulation of results that are received at the national results centre.
“In terms of that Act results are simply revealed and done by the CEO without the involvement of the agents of the participants in the Presidential elections similarly the announcements of results in terms of that law seems to ignore the fact that before an announcement is made the agents of participants in that election should validate those results as being correct collation of figures that would have come from the polling stations and as a result we believe that particular Section should be amended,” he said.