Electoral Act Amendment: The Implications

By Tariro Senderayi

President Robert Mugabe unilaterally amended the Electoral Act using the Presidential Temporary Measures Act recently; however, this move has raised an uproar considering that elections are around the corner.

Section 24 of the Electoral Act has been amended to facilitate the shortening of time taken to register those who are able to complete their own claim forms by ZEC.

Section 25 now reads that a claimant may himself or herself complete the claim form for a transfer of a person’s registration from one constituency to another. Assistance if needed may be requested.

Abolition of use of voter registration certificates to vote on polling day. Section 56 now reflects that although voter registration slips will be issued to all those being registered as voters, when it comes to election day the certificate will not be accepted as proof of being registered as a voter if the individuals’ name does not appear on the roll. A progressive move, in previous elections the slips were easily faked and formed a basis for numerous complaints of vote rigging and electoral fraud.

The bone of contention, however, is why the unconstitutional Temporary Measures Act is still being used to make such amendments?

This Act clearly disregards and violates the principle of separation of powers which ensures that the legislative arm of the state is primarily mandated with legislative duties.

If the President clearly has sweeping powers to enact regulations on anything which can be covered by an Act of Parliament, then doesn’t this render the office of the legislature useless?

Parliament is allowed to delegate law-making powers as per section 13 of the new Constitution to make statutory instruments such as regulations.

However, unlike the old constitution, there are restrictions placed on any such delegation to include

(i)Parliament’s primary law-making power must not be delegated

(ii)The Act under which the delegation is made must specify the limits of the power to make statutory instruments as well as the nature and the scope of the instruments and the principles and standards applicable to them.







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