By Nyasha N Mukapiko
The Harare public hearing meeting on electoral reforms held at the parliament building went into nearly fifteen minutes of adjournment on Monday after two Zanu-PF legislators who constitute the Justice, Legal and Parliamentary affairs committee arrived late and tried to stifle progress.
Zvimba West MP Ziyambi Ziyambi and Tafanana Zhou of Mberengwa North constituency arrived an hour late for the public hearing meeting.
Hon Jessie Majome chair of the justice committee was answering a citizen who had raised a question when the Zvimba West legislator interjected, professing ignorance asking if Hon Majome was trying to lecture him.
Ziyambi’s remarks angered some of the citizens resulting in an exchange of words in which citizens accused the MP of being disrespectful to the very people that had voted him in power.
Zhou quickly intervened with allegations that the meeting had been stage managed.
Majome had to then call for a brief adjournment after the meeting went out of order.
After having observed that the meeting may end up in chaos, MDC-T National Secretary for Election Hon Murisi Zwizwai tipped-off the gathered citizens to prematurely end the meeting as major contributions had already been raised.
This not the first time members of Zanu-PF has tried to derail a public hearing meeting, in August this year some bused in youths who engaged in violent conduct to end a hearing on Local government bill at Zimbabwe Hall located in Highfields, the bill was later sneaked into parliament whilst public hearing meetings were still going on.
Citizens raised many concerns over electoral reforms in the country. The citizens said though Zimbabwe Election Commission (ZEC) was supposed to be independent, its independence was compromised as the commission was infested with members from the army, police and the Central Intelligence Organizations (CIO) who are also affiliated to the ruling party.
Other participants spoke against the new bio-metric voters roll saying it was not transparent and a lot had already been done to rig the 2018 elections.
Public hearing meetings will be conducted across the country during the course of this week.
Addressing a press conference soon after the meeting, Majome said she was optimistic that meetings will go on well.
“I’m hoping for better behavior from members of the public and honourable members, I have never seen what happened today before, I’m really surprised still surprised.”
The public hearing comes a month after Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) through the Election Resource Centre (ERC) petitioned parliament over electoral reforms.
CSOs are calling for the review of provisions relating to Voters Registration and the Voters Roll to ensure they enhance the credibility of Zimbabwean elections among a list of other irregulaties surrounding elections.
Eighteen opposition political parties under the banner of National Electoral Reforms Agenda (NERA) are calling for a level playing field ahead of the 2018 elections. A move some Zanu Pf members have argued that they would not reform themselves out of power.