Parly urged to abolish 50% plus 1 vote requirement

By Daniel Chigundu

Harare residents have called on Parliament to abolish the electoral law that requires a winner in Presidential elections to get at least 50% plus 1 vote to become President of Zimbabwe.

According to the country’s electoral laws, if there is no candidate with 50% plus 1 vote in Presidential elections, the leading two candidates in that election go for a run-off.

This law was put to test in 2008 when MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai outclassed then Zanu PF candidate Robert Mugabe but fell short of the 50% plus 1 vote to be declared the ultimate winner.

The lack of a clear winner forced Mugabe and Tsvangirai to go for the infamous Presidential run-off of June 2009 where there was untold violence which led the MDC-T leader to pullout.

Giving his views to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs public hearing meeting on the Electoral Amendment Bill, one Harare man said this 50% plus 1 vote requirement was unnecessary in judging election winners.

“In a race if I put my head forward to the finishing line I have won and I will need my prize, this 50% plus 1 vote let’s just leave it, when a person has won, he has won, he should be considered to have won the Presidency, MP or whatever post it is.

‘These things should be made into law to declare that the person has won because when horses are racing at Borrowdale Race Course if it has won, it has won and they don’t talk about this 50% plus 1vote for it to be judged a winner,” he said.

Zimbabwe is scheduled to go for general elections in 2018 which many analysts have described as the “this-is-it” for opposition parties in the country.

However concerns have been raised over the failure by the opposition parties to unite under one banner and enter the election as a coalition to avoid splitting the votes.

Currently there is MDC-Alliance (led by Tsvangirai), People’s Rainbow Coalition (Joice Mujuru) and Coalition of Democrats (Elton Mangoma) and then there are various other opposition parties which are also angling for the same votes.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa has allocated the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) about US$132 million for the 2018 general elections far below their request.

ZEC chairperson Rita Makarau had told Parliament a few months ago that her commission had submitted a US$274 million budget for the elections and were confident that treasury would be able to finance it.

The budget allocation by Chinamasa means ZEC has a shortfall of about US$142 million to effectively hold the important elections.

The elections commission is also currently saddled by a US$768 000 CMED debts for vehicles it hired during the 2013 elections and has been failing to settle the bill.

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