MPs debate Electoral Amendment Bill

HARARE - Legislators across the political divide yesterday said more needs to be done for the country to have credible elections.

Debate the Electoral Amendment Bill, MPs said the Bill is very shallow as it is not addressing the controversial issues on elections.

It was the Second Reading debate.  The Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs minister Ziyambi Ziyambi has already explained the Bill and Fortune Chasi has presented the report of the Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs on the Bill and the public hearings held by the committee.

“In this country, we have disputed elections for several times but this Bill is not addressing those areas we were disputing. We have many areas which need to be covered but it is not covered. The Bill is very shallow,” MDC MP for Mutare Central Innocent Gonese said.

“In this region, ruling parties need to rule forever. Former minister Jonathan Moyo once said the ruling party cannot reform itself out of power, and I think there is need for attitude change ahead of elections. We have some provisions which infringe the independence of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec).

“According to the Constitution, every person has the right to vote which includes those who are in prisons, Diasporans and the disabled,” the MDC chief whip added.

Chegutu West Zanu PF MP Dexter Nduna said the Bill must allow the youths from 16 years to vote.

“A 16-year-old can be given a driver licence, so why are they not allowed to vote? They must be allowed to vote. We also have the issue of proof of residence which is required for a person to register to vote.

“In my constituency, a few people are landlords so many people are left without registering to vote because they do not have proof of residence, this requirement must scrapped.

“The Bill must ensure that all people are registered to vote who include, the so-called aliens and the disabled,” Nduna said.

Norton independent MP Temba Mliswa weighed in saying the playing field must be level to all political parties before elections.

Mliswa also castigated intra-party violence saying it can lead to a violent election if it is not stopped.

The Electoral Amendment Bill is aimed at improving electoral laws and calls on members.

Institutions such as Veritas already think that the Electoral Amendment Bill’s scope in its current form is very limited and must be expanded in order to include punitive measures on political parties that perpetrate voter intimidation.

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