Electoral law alignment with constitution not fully addressed

Electoral law alignment with constitution not fully addressed | The Herald March 7, 2016

Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
THERE is need for additional amendments to the law because the proposed General Laws Amendment Bill as currently constituted does not fully address alignment of electoral laws with the new Constitution, Senate heard on Tuesday. This was said by Senate Thematic Committee on Human Rights chairperson, Sen Mike Nyambuya, while presenting the committee report on submissions made by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) on the proposed General Laws Amendment Bill.

The Bill, which is being steered by Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who also oversees the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, is now in its second reading stage in the Upper House.

Sen Nyambuya said they were satisfied with the engagement made by the Ministry and ZEC in complying with the Constitution but more needed to be done.

“The Committee, however, notes that as stated by ZEC the amendments still falls short of fully aligning the Electoral Laws to the Constitution, an issue that the Committee hopes will be addressed in further and more substantial amendments to the Electoral Act,” said Sen Nyambuya in his report.

The committee did not, however, elaborate areas that ZEC wanted addressed to fully comply with the Constitution.

It was noted that the Ministry had complied with section 157 (4) of the Constitution which required consulting ZEC before any amendments to the Electoral law or any subsidiary legislation could be made.

“The committee noted that the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs through the Attorney General’s Office, engaged in consultations with ZEC before the electoral amendments in the General Laws Amendment Bill were affected,” said Sen Nyambuya.

Proposals in the Bill that came from ZEC include the requirement making the electoral body responsible for registering voters.

“The section also empowers ZEC to give instructions to persons employed by the State and local authorities to ensure the efficient, free fair, proper and transparent conduct of elections and referendums. The Bill seeks to achieve compliance with the Constitution on this score by replacing sections 18 and 19 of the Electoral Act, which currently establish the offices of Registrar-General of Voters, constituency registrars and other officers working under the Registrar-General’s direction,” said Sen Nyambuya

“The Bill will require voters’ rolls and voters’ registration certificates to record voters’ sex as well as their names, age and other particulars. Although the point is not mentioned in the memorandum to the Bill, the sex of voters is a useful statistic to analyse results of elections and any gender bias in voter registration.”