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Opposition Legislators Denounce Electoral Amendment Bill

Opposition legislators have denounced the proposed Electoral Amendment Bill that is currently before Parliament saying there was no consultation and input from election stakeholders including observer missions and pressure groups.

Speaking during debating of the second reading of the Bill in Parliament yesterday, Mutare Central legislator Innocent Gonese described the Bill as a terrible piece of legislation that should be discarded.

“This Bill is the antithesis of that laudable provision, to say that the Bill is not a good Bill is an understatement. I actually say that this is a horrible Bill, this is a terrible piece of legislation both from a procedural and a substantive point of view. We have had a history of disputed elections culminating in the elections of 2018 which also had its own controversies. 

“We had recommendations made by various observer missions.  We had a petition which was presented to this august House by the Zimbabwe Election Support Network. The Bill which has been presented by the Hon. Minister is very narrow in its scope, in its memorandum, it simply refers to the alignment of the Electoral Law with Amendment No 2. 

“The disqualification of candidates on the basis of previous convictions. It is a dangerous provision, it is unconstitutional because the Constitution sets out the disqualifications. It is only if a person was convicted during their term as a Member of Parliament and that person will be barred. It does not have any other disqualification related to the commission of offences,” said Gonese.

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Echoing Gonese’s remarks was Kadoma Central lawmaker Muchineripi Chinyanganya who bemoaned the lack of public consultations.

“The Bill does not really encompass the electoral reforms that the general populace in this country were expecting but rather, I would say it is simply the insertion of the provisions of the Constitutional Amendment No. 2.  It lacks the provisions which we were expecting. Section 141 of the Constitution is clear that when Parliament is conducting its businesses and more precisely the business which concerns the public, then Parliament has to consult widely in that regard by undertaking public consultations. The Committee undertook processes which I believe left out the majority of the population of Zimbabwe because the consultations were done on radio,” said Chinyanganya.

Dzivaresekwa Member of Parliament Edwin Mushoriwa called for the alignment of the laws in line with continental and regional practices.

“In a democracy, of which Zimbabwe is supposed to be, elections play a major role and to that extent, our electoral laws need to be seen to promote democratic ethos  and should also be seen to be aligned to the continental and regional norms. Any law that we make should also be done in a process, a process that gives confidence to the people of Zimbabwe.  You do  not want to have a situation where you make a piece of law that members of the public feel that they did not fully participate in the process of coming up with that law,” Mushoriwa said.

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