By Pretty Chavango
The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) has called upon legislators and the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs to urgently finalized amendments to the electoral laws saying any further delay will only serve to jeopardize the credibility of the impending 2018 elections.
In a recent press statement, ZESN called upon political players to demonstrate genuine political will to effect electoral reforms which are critical to the creation of an enabling electoral environment., raising concern over delays by the Parliament of Zimbabwe to finalize the process of enacting comprehensive reforms to the Electoral Act in line with constitutional provisions.
“The country’s electoral laws are significantly inadequate thus the need for urgent reform to create an enabling framework for the holding of free, fair, peaceful and credible elections, thus calling upon legislators to put aside political differences and finalize the reform process especially given the imminence of the 2018 elections.”
This statement comes after proposed amendments to the electoral amendment bill failed to take off after Members of Parliament from the ruling party refused to allow debate on the bill be tabled in Parliament arguing that most of their MPs were busy conducting primary elections and could not avail themselves thus failing to reach a quorum. This resulted in amendments to the bill being called of twice and are now set for 8 may.
ZESN adds that while they recognize some of the proposed amendments which include a provision for the closing of the voters’ roll before nomination, full enforcement of current provisions such as the obligation of the public media to give fair coverage to all political parties and candidates.
“As part of the proposed legal reforms, ZESN is calling for the Parliament of Zimbabwe to be accorded the oversight role over the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) as opposed to the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs to ensure that its independence is not compromised by the Executive or any power or authority. Furthermore, executive interference in electoral processes such as its seconding of persons to the Observer Accreditation Committee and in the enactment of electoral regulations must be removed.”
According to ZESN, If the country is to hold free, fair and credible elections as pronounced by the President, ZEC Chairperson and government officials, it is imperative that the Electoral Act is fully aligned with the Constitution well in advance of the impending harmonized election to give adequate time for the implementation of the reforms.