via Parly urged to reform Zec – NewsDay Zimbabwe September 15, 2015
A LOCAL election watchdog, Election Resource Centre (ERC), has urged Parliament to enact laws to allow the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) to be truly independent and initiate the required legal process freely.
The watchdog said Zec currently cannot initiate any legal reform process as the electoral body depended on advice and guidance from the Executive through the Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs ministry.
“Zec must be proactive and start initiating electoral reform by utilising Section 157 (4) of the Constitution. The Parliament of Zimbabwe must make legislative changes to allow for Zec to have more powers to initiate reform. The independence of Zec must be unequivocally ascertained by removing clauses that require it to be superintended by the Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs ministry,” read a report by ERC on the state of election management in Zimbabwe in comparison to other countries.
The report states that the way the local electoral body manages its affairs was far way below standards, in terms of achieving the ultimate democratic right to all citizens, South Africa’s Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) and Sierra Leone’s National Election Commission (NEC).
“The West African country (Sierra Leone) is a young democracy emerging from civil war. Its NEC has made significant strides in pushing for electoral reforms, albeit exponentially. The NEC is given powers to make regulations by a statutory instrument through Section 33 of the Constitution and Section 166 of the Public Election Act 2012,” ERC said.
“Unlike in Zimbabwe, where the minister will have to approve, in Sierra Leone they have to be ‘published in the gazette’ and ‘laid before Parliament’ and ‘shall come into force at the expiration of a period of 21 days of being so laid’.”
In the South African case, the watchdog said the IEC has the right to initiate electoral reforms although Parliament is involved.
“While not all proposals by the IEC are agreed on, they are at least considered and debated by Parliament. Some proposals, for example on e-voting, electoral system reform and party finances have been debated and put on hold or rejected. Furthermore, reform issues are heavily consulted upon with all stakeholders particularly political parties. This allows for robust discussions on continuously improving administrative, environmental and legislative reform issues,” ERC stated in their report.