Local poll watchdog, Election Resource Centre (ERC) has urged the Parliament to come up with a clear roadmap to Zimbabwe’s legal framework on elections ahead of the make or break harmonized elections to be held in 2018.
Speaking ahead of Parliament’s Public hearing starting today (Friday) in Gweru and Masvingo, ERC executive director, Tawanda Chimhini called for a clear road-map which he said would allow citizens to fully participate in the process.
“The ERC urges the Speaker of Parliament, the Parliament of Zimbabwe, and the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs to outline a clear roadmap to Zimbabwe’s legal framework ahead of the 2018 harmonized elections,” Chimhini said.
The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice Legal and Parliamentary Affairs is gathering public views on the Electoral Amendment Bill HB 6, 2017. The Bill seeks to address inadequacies in the current Electoral Act in terms of the administration of the voter registration process.
Chimhini expressed concern on the conduct of Parliament which he says find time to deal with another bill before finishing other electoral issues that propped up three years ago.
“It is unfortunate that Parliament and the Justice committee found time to explore yet another bill pertaining to elections. This comes in the wake of a pending ERC petition that was filed three years ago requesting Parliament to consider full alignment of the Electoral Act with the Constitution of Zimbabwe,” Chimhini said.
The ERC, worried with the snail pace that the government adopted on the issue of electoral reforms, in 2014 together with 14 other civil society organisations petitioned the Parliament of Zimbabwe encouraging them to undertake electoral reforms.
Chimhini said the ERC acknowledges the two key issues of the Electoral Court and voter registration have been addressed through its petition.
“However key issues remain outstanding, including the independence of Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), extending the right to vote to all eligible Zimbabweans including the hospitalized, those in prison and in the diaspora, opening up voter education to stakeholders without restriction, strengthened mechanisms that curb violence and put in place deterrent punitive measures to perpetrators of election related violence,” Chimhini said.
Chimhini urged Parliament to seriously take into provision the public input during the forthcoming public hearings on the current Electoral Amendment Bill.
Chimhini took the opportunity to encourage all eligible citizens to register and vote in the 2018 harmonized elections.