ZIMBABWE Election Support Network (Zesn) has called for the tightening of the Electoral Act to provide punitive measures, which will enable the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) to deal with those, who violate the law.
Source: Electoral laws weak – Zesn – NewsDay Zimbabwe November 21, 2016
BY BLESSED MHLANGA
“The Electoral Act does not clearly stipulate how to deal with offenders who do not comply with the legal requirements, Zesn, an independent election lobby group said at the weekend.
“There is need for punitive measures and sanctions to be added to the Electoral Act to scale up efforts to eliminate political violence and intimidation as well as ensure equitable access to unbiased media coverage for all electoral contestants.”
The call by Zesn comes days after Zec last week said it was powerless to deal with a number of electoral violations, which rocked the Norton by-elections conducted last month. The elections were marred by allegations of vote buying, biased media coverage and politically motivated violence.
Zesn said while generally, the Electoral Act has provisions that address the issues of media bias, vote buying and election related violence, the law does not set out punishment for those implicated in the vices.
Section 133 of the Electoral Act outlaws intimidation and violence, while the Act provides for the establishment of the special police liaison officer and the special investigation committee for the expeditious investigation of cases of politically motivated violence or intimidation, but does not spell out sanctions for offenders.
“But Zec do not have powers to deal with perpetrators, which power lies with the High Court (section 138) in determining the judgment for the offences,” Zesn noted.
MDC-T spokesperson, Obert Gutu, however, said the Constitution gave Zec all the powers it needed to deal with those who violate the electoral laws.
“That is absolutely incorrect, section 239 (a) (IV) of the Constitution gives Zec the power to ensure that elections and referendums are conducted efficiently, freely and fairy, transparently and in accordance with the law. This is an all-embracing provision that empowers Zec to deal with all the ills,” he said.
“Zec has got all the constitutional muscle that it needs to run a free and fair election. The main challenge is that Zec has been virtually captured by the Zanu PF regime’s tentacles of autocracy and dictatorship. In practice, Zec is like a castrated bull,” he said.
People’s Democratic Party spokesperson, Jacob Mafume accused Zec of being selective especially when it comes to Zanu PF.
“They have no power when it comes to Zanu PF malpractice, but if the opposition does something wrong; they have more than enough power. It is the same as the devil saying he has no power to tempt people,” he said.