HARARE – The opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) has criticised Zimbabwe’s Electoral Amendment Bill, describing it as defective and out of sync with the legislative framework.
The law was gazetted last year and seeks to disqualify aspiring electoral candidates with criminal records, among other things.
Innocent Gonese, Mutare Central legislator, called the proposed law “fundamentally flawed” and said that it ignored recommendations from various election observer missions, which made poignant and pointed observations on the deficits in our electoral processes.
Gonese added that the proposed amendments do not deal with critical issues such as ensuring the right to vote is extended to various groups of citizens like the diaspora, prisoners, essential services, the hospitalised and physically challenged.
Dzivarasekwa legislator Edwin Mushoriwa, a member of the CCC, said Zimbabwe had failed for the past two decades to hold credible and transparent elections due to the gaps in the Electoral Bill.
He added that the Bill as currently gazetted does not go deep enough to address the problems and only makes cosmetic changes.
Zanu PF accuses CCC of pushing foreign-sponsored agendas
However, Zanu PF chief whip and Gutu South legislator, Pupurai Togarepi, criticised the opposition, saying that they were showing dishonesty as always.
Togarepi added that the ruling party would not be hoodwinked into debating foreign-sponsored agendas.
He said that substantive issues, not politicking, were what they would debate.
The Bill is on the second reading stage, and if it is signed by the President before the polls, it will be implemented during this year’s harmonised elections.
Justice minister, Ziyambi Ziyambi, defended the Bill, saying that the Electoral Act they have is good, and amendments that they put forward are the identified ones that they felt were necessary.
He added that Zimbabwe’s electoral laws compare well with those in the region, and may be the best.
The CCC’s criticism of the Bill highlights the need for Zimbabwe to have credible and transparent electoral processes.
The government should consider the concerns raised by the opposition and election observer missions to ensure that the Electoral Amendment Bill addresses the deficits in Zimbabwe’s electoral processes.
The ruling party and opposition should put aside their differences and work together to create an electoral framework that is fair and credible.