Lincoln Towindo, Harare Bureau
PARLIAMENT has enough time to pass amendments to the Electoral Act before its dissolution on the eve of this year’s harmonised election in terms of the Constitution.
Following events of last week, where bickering in the National Assembly led to postponement of debate on the proposed amendments, there were fears that Parliament may fail to enact the proposed amendments before the election.
However, Section 143 (1) provides for dissolution of Parliament just before the start of the day on which polling begins. Indications are that elections will be held between July and August.
Last week, MDC-T Parliamentarians disrupted Parliamentary proceedings during debate on the Electoral Amendment Bill, which seeks to fine-tune the Electoral Act. The legislators defied acting National Assembly Speaker Reuben Marumahoko, who repeatedly called them to order after they began singing in the august House.
The opposition legislators were incensed by a motion moved by Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi — who is also the leader of Government business in the House — for the adjournment of the House before the Electoral Amendment Bill was debated.
Minister Ziyambi argued that some MPs who had proposed the amendments were away on official business. In an interview yesterday, Minister Ziyambi dismissed rumours that Zanu-PF was attempting to frustrate the amendment of the law.
He said: “On Tuesday we were ready to proceed but the MDC people asked for a postponement to the following day, arguing that there were things they needed to consider. I even moved a motion to suspend the Standing Rules on adjournment. On Wednesday when we came to Parliament, one of the movers of the amendments was not there so in my opinion we could not proceed because I could not answer to her amendments. So, I proposed that we move the debate forward to May 8 and we all agreed on that. Everything said outside of that are lies and propaganda.”
Constitutional law expert Professor Lovemore Madhuku said Parliament has enough time to enact the amendments.
“Parliament will stand dissolved by August 22 in terms of the Constitution. Between now and then, there is enough time to push through the amendments. It only requires between two to three days for the amendments to be passed given the willingness of the Parliamentarians.”