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Electoral Bill in preparation

Itai Dzamara

A Bill with major proposals to reform electoral laws is likely to be brought to parliament soon. The proposals, already approved by Zanu PF’s politburo, are a culmination of deliberations involv

ing the ruling party, the opposition and civil society, the Zimbabwe Independent heard this week.

Zanu PF sources this week said the party’s politburo had resolved at last week’s meeting to present a Bill to parliament with electoral amendments after the opening of the Fifth Session of the Fourth Parliament by President Mugabe on July 20.

It is understood the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn)’s draft proposals on electoral amendments have been used extensively by government in determining changes to the electoral laws, sources said.

Zesn chairman Reginald Matchaba-Hove this week said Zanu PF had accepted the need for electoral reforms following pressure from many sources, including civil society.

“It is encouraging that as a nation we are moving in the right direction following this willingness to come together and create a framework under which acceptable conditions of elections can be established,” said Matchaba-Hove.

“We are pleased that our proposals on electoral amendments have been taken into consideration by the ruling party. However, a lot still needs to be done and we must fully utilise this little window of opportunity.”

Zesn earlier this year submitted to government and parliament proposals on electoral amendments which in essence called for the disbanding of the current outdated system. The Zesn proposals recommend the establishment of an Independent Electoral Commission to replace the Registrar-General and the Electoral Supervisory Commission that have been running elections since Independence.

It also recommends that elections be held on one day, a proposal that the Zanu PF politburo has adopted.

Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Patrick Chinamasa this week said a position on the way forward would be announced soon and didn’t rule out the issue of the Bill going to parliament after the opening ceremony.

“A position would be announced soon regarding the way forward and if it means presenting a Bill in parliament, the right course will have to be followed,” said Chinamasa.

The MDC has welcomed Zanu PF’s desire to change electoral laws but said some aspects of the proposals adopted by the ruling party’s politburo would need work.

The proposal by Zanu PF to have five members of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission appointed by Mugabe, for example, has been viewed as unacceptable by the opposition and civil society.

MDC secretary-general Welshman Ncube this week said the opposition would wait for an opportunity to debate the Bill in parliament and try to ensure that such outstanding issues are addressed.

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