2013 polls tainted: ZHRC

via 2013 polls tainted: ZHRC January 31, 2014 by Paidamoyo Muzulu NewsDay

THE proclamation of the July 31 polls by President Robert Mugabe without consultation and debt write off order by Local Government ministry tainted the elections, the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) has said.

The concerns were contained in ZHRC’s belated report on the 2013 elections which were overwhelmingly won by President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF party.
It, however, endorsed the disputed poll just like observers from Sadc and Africa Union who declared the polls as “peaceful and credible”.

ZHRC in the report released this week said Mugabe’s proclamation of the poll dates in line with the Jealousy Mawarire’s Constitutional Court application undermined the negotiations for reforms among the former coalition partners.

“This proclamation compromised on-going negotiations between parties on fundamental reforms like; Media reforms; Alignment of laws to the new Constitution; and Electoral reforms including the issue of the voters’ roll,” ZHRC said.

The institution further said the use of Presidential Powers to enact Electoral Act amendments was to a degree unconstitutional.

“The President had to use the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act to make amendments to the Electoral Act because of time constraints. However, the new Constitution makes it clear that only Parliament has the power to make primary legislation and that its powers of making law cannot be delegated to anyone,” the report read.

The report further raised concerns with Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo’s order to local authorities saying it gave an advantage to Zanu PF.

“The ZHRC is concerned about the timing of this announcement and its likelihood to have created unfair advantage for the minister’s party,” ZHRC noted.

The order compelled all urban and rural councils to write-off all rates and bills owed by residents from February 2009 to June 2013.

ZHRC also said limited financial support from the Treasury impaired on their ability to fully observe and monitor the elections.

“Treasury was only able to release $60 000 for this exercise. The Commission would have wished to hire independent research assistants to conduct field monitoring visits during the electoral process, but due to limited funding this was not possible,” it said.

The commission recommended that in future the State should fund the electoral processes in time and make amendments well in advance of the actual polls.