Source: Parly’s oversight role critical — Speaker | The Herald June 7, 2019
Walter Nyamukondiwa Kariba Bureau
PARLIAMENT should effectively play its legislative and oversight roles by demanding that statutory bodies such as the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) conform to the demands of the Constitution, the Speaker of Parliament Advocate Jacob Mudenda has said.
This also includes demanding a consolidated Electoral Bill from the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, which would not encumber the operationalisation of the new or amended Electoral Act.
Electoral reforms being pursued by Parliament during the subsistence of the First Session of the Ninth Parliament in the next two months are expected to provide the basis for free, fair, transparent and credible elections in 2023
“The Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs is very important. You are the anchor of the law. As it is in terms of application, your desire should be to craft laws that are robust enough to take care of socio-economic environment,” said Adv Mudenda.
“To that extent, I am hoping that when you meet the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs (Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi) one of the issues you are going to demand is that we want a fully consolidated electoral law not the one that has several legal patches that are difficult to cross reference.”
He said Parliament should demand regulations that spell out dispute resolution mechanisms and establishment of a Multi-Party Liaison Committee explicitly stating that only senior leaders of political parties should be available when binding resolutions are taken.
This follows instances where certain agreed positions in the run-up to the 2018 harmonised elections were disowned by party principals who seconded low ranking officials during the Multi-Party Liaison Committee meetings.
These emerged as points of dispute by political parties which were expected to be solved by ZEC.
“I want to submit that you must insist that if political leaders of parties are not there, at least the national chairman of that party or the secretary-general attends.
“This will ensure consistency in policy direction and implementation of ideas and suggestions coming from political parties. I want the Justice committee to engage political parties at the highest level and bring them before Parliament and ask them what they think of their role in building confidence in the public,” he said.
The Speaker said Parliament should demand that ZEC presents a report of the July 31, 2018 harmonised elections which according to the Constitution was supposed to be tabled within three months.
He said almost a year had lapsed after the 2018 harmonised elections and in terms of Section 119 of the Constitution, ZEC should have tabled a report before Parliament.
“They haven’t, I have checked and this committee (Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs) should have demanded that ZEC appear before you three months after the elections.
Elections and Governance consultant Dr Victor Shale said the multi-party Liaison Committee system had worked well at the provincial level, but faltered at national level owing to sending of proxies that held no binding positions for their political parties.
He said the country’s legislative architecture was one of the best, but the country needed to deal with political issues around their conduct and resultant conflict.