via Movement for Democratic Change 3 April 2014
Press Statement by Senator Lillian Timevous, the MDC Alternative Minister for Home Affairs
1. Electoral Amendment Bill
The MDC notes with serious concern the serious defects in the Electoral Amendment Bill which Zanu PF has pushed through Senate as the Bill is unconstitutional.
The Bill is highly defective as it does not address serious concerns. The Bill does not deal with issues of wider coverage on voter education. Some of the defects include the Right to Vote which is enshrined in the Constitution. Further, the Bill does not make it easier for citizens to register as voters or to cast their votes. The result is that millions are going to be disenfranchised as experienced in the 2013 July elections. The Bill does not address the bottlenecks around the registration of voters especially the so-called aliens.
It is disappointing that up to now, Zimbabweans in the Diaspora are not able to vote.
2. Voters’ rolls
In terms of section 239 of the Constitution, ZEC is responsible for registering voters and compiling the voters’ roll, the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution gave this responsibility to the Registrar-General, but only for the 2013 general election. Under the Electoral Act, on the other hand, constituency registrars register voters, and they do so under the general supervision and direction of the Registrar-General of Voters. Effectively, the Registrar-General still controls the entire process by which voters are registered and voters’ rolls compiled and published. The Bill does not change this position in line with the Constitution.
The continued responsibility by the Registrar-General and his officers of their powers to register voters and prepare rolls is unconstitutional. The Bill should have remedied this and given the responsibility of the management of the voters roll to ZEC – and at the same time given ZEC the resources to do so.
3. Independence of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC)
Section 235 of the Constitution emphasises that the Independent Commissions, including ZEC, are independent and are not subject to the direction or control of anyone. In two important respects, however, the Electoral Act places ZEC under the control of the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Emmerson Mnangagwa:
ZEC cannot accept funding from local or foreign sources unless the Minister and the Minister of Finance, Patrick Chinamasa has approved it (Section 12(1) (e)).
Regulations made by ZEC have no effect unless they have been approved by the Minister (section 192(6)). These are both considerable limitations on ZEC’s independence and the Bill does not remove them or alter them in any way.
4. The Electoral Court
Part 22 of the Electoral Act creates an Electoral Court as a separate court with exclusive jurisdiction to hear electoral appeals, applications and petitions, which means that no other court — not even the High Court — may hear those cases. The Act goes on to say that the Chief Justice must appoint High Court judges to preside over the Electoral Court, and in 2013 he appointed all the current High Court judges to be judges of the Electoral Court so that they could deal with electoral cases in addition to their normal High Court work.
The Constitution allows courts such as the Electoral Court to be established but in section 183 it prohibits people being appointed as judicial officers to more than one court. As a result, the appointment of High Court judges to preside over both the Electoral Court and the High Court became illegal as soon as the Constitution came fully into force on 24th August 2013. Hence there are no longer any judges of the Electoral Court.The Bill does nothing to remedy this very awkward situation.
5. Polling-station voters’ rolls
In 2012 the Electoral Act was amended to provide for voters’ rolls to be based on polling stations. The idea was that polling stations were to be established at locations which would not be changed from one election to the next. Each polling station would have a specific area which it would serve, and a voters’ roll would be prepared listing the voters who would be entitled to vote at that polling station. Voters would not be allowed to vote at any station other than the one on whose roll they were registered.
This amendment was stated to come into force on a date to be fixed by ZEC. Up to now ZEC has not fixed a date, so the amendment is not yet operative.
If, as seems likely, it has been decided not to proceed with polling-station voters’ rolls then the 2012 amendment should be removed from the statute book.
6. Nikuv operations in Zimbabwe
Although the MDC is demanding that a new voters’ roll is compiled before the holding of the next general elections, we are highly worried on why Tobaiwa Mudede, the Registrar General is failing to release the voters’ roll and this vindicates our position that the 31 July 2013 elections were heavily rigged by controversial Israeli-based shadowy company Nikuv, Zanu PF and State security agents.
This is further made highly complex following recent media reports that the processing of identity cards and passports, citizenships, births, deaths, marriages and divorces certificates has been transferred to Nikuv and that it is now operating as part of the Home Affairs ministry based at KG6 army barracks. The MDC also has it on good authority that there are seven large containers carrying voting materials meant to rig the 2018 general elections. The shipment is reported to be stuck at a harbour in Durban, South Africa.
Zimbabwe Republic Police
The MDC is seriously concerned by the lack of will exhibited by the ZRP, Commissioner-General, Augustine Chihuri in spearheading investigations and arrests of several senior Zanu PF officials who have been implicated in high levels of corrupt deals.
As a high ranking government official, Chihuri must walk the talk against any form of corruption and curb the scourge that has spread to all sectors of the economy including the police force. According to a recent survey carried out by Transparency International Zimbabwe, 53 percent of Zimbabweans said they had paid a bribe to police officers and the blame to end this scourges stops with none other than Chihuri.
The MDC therefore demands that the salaries and working conditions of police officers and other civil servants be improved. It is difficult to see how corruption within the police and other government institutions can be curbed unless working conditions and salaries are improved.
It is totally unacceptable that we are experiencing police roadblocks on almost every major road where motorists and other road users are being forced to pay fines yet the revenue collected from the fines is not being accounted for.
Last month, the police told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy that they were not obliged to hand over gold recovered from criminal scenes, raising suspicion that some police officers could be corruptly disposing precious minerals into the informal market and personally pocketing the proceeds.
It is also worrying that police officers are being implicated in cases of torturing and illegally detaining people for over long hours in clear disregard of the country’s Constitution.
Last month, a Harare man, Mercedes Nyamande was dragged from his home and severely assaulted by the police before being starved and detained overnight on theft allegations. In February this year, Tsitsi Chimhutu from Nyanga was ruthlessly brutalised in police custody as the police sought to induce a confession from her for theft. The above cases are only a tip of the iceberg of human rights abuses and unwarranted detentions that are taking place in the country’s police stations.
In addition, there is need to strengthen the capacity of police officers’ investigative capacities so as to assist them in effectively and professionally dealing with high level criminal and fraud cases. As a party, the MDC therefore urgently demands that Chihuri should be arrested for legalising and habituating corruption within the ranks and files of the supposed law enforcers in this nation. Because he is as corrupt as the system, he has no capacity at all to deal with corruption in the country especially in the police force that he head.
In a nutshell, the MDC demands a completely new Electoral Act that is meticulously and coherently prepared and accepted as legitimate by all sectors of the country as the proposed one is highly unacceptable with an unusual number of careless and serious errors.
The MDC demands a total transformation and reformation of all institutions that make Home Affairs more manageable including;-an efficient, modern, reliable and fully functional registration service that meets the needs and requirements of its citizens. It should not be a hassle for one to acquire travel documents, Marriage, Birth and Death Certificates and even Identity cards. We demand that the registration office expedites the process of getting a travel document to a maximum of seven days, and just hours to acquire other certificates like National Identity Card, birth, marriage and death certificates.
The Shadow Cabinet further demands a professional Police service that is able to maintain peace and stability, limit crime and deal effectively with criminals and violations of law in a manner that protects and enhances the dignity of all who live in Zimbabwe; and a defence force that is well organised and well disciplined as a natural defence for a free people.
I thank you!!!