via ZANU-PF amends poll law | The Financial Gazette 12 Dec 2013
LESS than six months after its victory in the July 31 polls, the ZANU-PF government has come up with an amendment to the Electoral Act.With ZANU-PF firmly in control after garnering over two thirds majority in the last poll, the ruling party is now unrestrained in making laws to suit its own devices.
For the first time since 2007, ZANU-PF is revising the law that governs the conduct of elections in the country without having to consult its main rivals.
Zimbabwe went for the 2008 elections and this year’s polls with a negotiated Electoral Act, even though the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) formations had reservations over a handful of clauses.
An amendment to the Electoral Act is one of the Bills in the government’s immediate plans and it has since been sent for printing after which it would be gazetted and brought to Parliament.
“Title of Bill: Electoral Amendment Bill; Ministry, Justice; Bill number H.B, 2013; status of Bill — sent to printers 04/12/13,” read the status of the proposed legislation as of yesterday. Also on government’s priority list is the Biological and Toxin Weapons Crimes Bill and the Sovereign Wealth Fund of Zimbabwe Bill.
The Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Emmerson Mnangagwa was not immediately available to explain what the objective of the electoral law amendment was, but the secretary for legal affairs in the Welshman Ncube-led MDC, David Coltart said the amendments might see the enactment of electoral regulations effected by the incumbent in the run up to the July polls through the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act.
When the regulations were introduced by decree, ZANU-PF’s rivals protested saying they should have come through Parliament.
They argued that the use of a Presidential proclamation to introduce laws violated the principle of separation of powers.
Regulations introduced through Presidential powers fall away if they are not confirmed by Parliament within six months, making the latest amendments imperative.
However, Coltart expressed fears that in addition to addressing the issues covered by Presidential edict, ZANU-PF may as well introduce other fresh issues to the elections law.
“They are obliged to do so because just before elections President Mugabe used Presidential powers to bring regulations and they last for six months. We complained at the time that he was not empowered to do so, but the point is he did use them,” said Coltart.
“They may as well introduce other issues because they have absolute control of Parliament; the only thing is that they have to make it in line with the new Constitution that is the only limitation.”
When asked if they had been consulted, MDC-T secretary for legal affairs Innocent Gonese quipped: “What consultations? We are no longer in the inclusive government and consultations are done in Cabinet.”