via Gono’s Senatorial seat hinges on Electoral Bill | The Herald August 20, 2014 by Zvamaida Murwira
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has said it will make its position regarding the eligibility of former Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Dr Gideon Gono to become Senator for Manicaland only after President Mugabe assents to the Electoral Amendment Bill. ZEC chairperson Justice Rita Makarau said in an interview yesterday that they already have a position on the matter in which Zanu-PF seeks to replace the late national hero Cde Kumbirai Kangai with Dr Gono.
Parliament passed the Electoral Amendment Bill recently and it is now before President Mugabe. This comes as views have been thrown around about Dr Gono’s eligibility, with some believing that Dr Gono could not make it into Parliament since he was not on Zanu-PF’s party list submitted to ZEC in the run-up to the 2013 harmonised elections.
The Zanu-PF Politburo has since adopted recommendations by the revolutionary party’s Manicaland Province recommending that Dr Gono replaces Cde Kangai who died in August 2013 ahead of Cde Shadreck Chipanga who was the next man on the party list.
Dr Gono could not take up the seat because the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act that gave legal effect to fill vacant parliamentary seats had expired after the six-month maximum lifespan.
Justice Makarau said Zec would handle the Dr Gono case once the Electoral Amendment Bill had been signed into law.
“We do not want to anticipate what will happen or what His Excellency the President will do,” she said.
“We want everything to take its course. It will be only after it becomes law that we will give our interpretation of the provisions. We will also make it known to all parties concerned and if there is anyone who wants to challenge our decision they would then be free to do so.”
Some legal experts had said the elevation of Dr Gono might not be guaranteed as they felt that the move could be ultra vires provisions of the Constitution which require that senators be elected under a party-list system.
The legal experts said the filling of a senatorial vacancy by a person who was not on the party list would defeat the requirement that Senators are elected under a party system. They argued that objections might be raised against that nomination on the grounds that the electoral law intended that the vacancy be filled by the next person on the party list who is qualified to do so.
Section 15 of the Bill empowers a party holding a seat in respect of party-list members to nominate a “qualified” person to fill a vacancy that might have occurred.
The party list has members that a political party would have submitted to Zec to represent it in a given province ahead of a general election.
The names are listed in terms of preference. Zec would in turn publish the name of the nominated candidate in a Government Gazette inviting objection, if any, before confirming the member.
Section 15 (3)(b) of the Bill reads: “In the event of a vacancy occurring among the party-list members of the Senate or of the National Assembly, otherwise than through a dissolution of Parliament, the president of the Senate or the Speaker, as the case may be, shall notify the Commission of the vacancy, in writing, as soon as possible after he or she becomes aware of it.
“Upon being notified of a vacancy in terms of subsection (3), the Commission shall without delay – invite the political party in writing to submit the name of a qualified person to fill the vacancy, for which purpose the political party must lodge with the Commission a nomination paper in the prescribed form referred to in section 45E(2), countersigned by any two of the designated national office-bearers of the party referred to in section 38A(1)(a) (or by such other two office-bearers of the political party whom the Commission is satisfied are duly authorised to make the required countersignatures).”