Parly consults on electoral reforms

HARARE - Parliament is next week set to conduct public consultations to gather citizens’ views on electoral reforms.

The countrywide hearings will be convened by the august House’s Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs portfolio committee.

The consultations are on the back of a petition, by the Election Resource Centre (ERC) and 14 civil society organisation (CSOs) on September 22, demanding comprehensive electoral reforms.

ERC is a think tank and advocacy institution focused on democracy and electoral issues.

In a statement, ERC executive director Tawanda Chimhini said the petition went through critical scrutiny before Parliament decided to conduct the hearings.

“It (petition) passed through all the necessary and legal stages in Parliament, but for some reason, could not be availed for public input.

“This is despite the fact that Parliament was conducting public hearings on other pertinent issues,” he said, adding that “finally, with enough pressure, public hearings on the electoral reform petition are here”.

The public hearings will run from October 24 to 30, with the first meeting to be held in Harare.

Chimhini said this is the first time that a petition submitted around election issues has actually gone to the process of engaging the public.

“This is also the first opportunity that public input will be considered in the alignment of laws with the  Constitution. Past experience has shown that the executive has exercised sole mandate to realign laws with the Constitution with regards to public input,” he said.

Chimhini said the public consultations cement citizens’ role in electoral reform — two years before the 2018 polls.

ERC and CSOs are concerned and worried not only about the pace at which the electoral reforms are being effected, but also the substantive content of the legislative proposals that have come from the executive on electoral laws.

The critical priority areas the organisations want addressed are independence of the electoral body, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec), alignment of all laws that impact the political environment to the Constitution, a comprehensive, continuous voter registration resulting in a clean voters’ roll and enhancement of voter education by creating more space for stakeholders other than Zec.

Others include extension of the right to vote to all Zimbabwean citizens, wherever they may be, reconstitution of the Electoral Court in compliance with the Constitution and making Zec solely responsible for invitation of poll observers.

Comments (1)

What measures are put in place to guarantee that Zanu PF will not manipulate this process to its favor as usual? Remember these are people who believe in violence when ever some one disagrees with their line of thought.

Ndabazezwe viki - 22 October 2016

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