Zanu PF has been accused of trying to lay the groundwork for a rigged general election after it came up with a cocktail of measures reversing agreements reached by the inclusive government to level the playing field ahead of the polls.
President Robert Mugabe’s party in 225 proposals presented to Parliament’s Constitution Select Committee (Copac) seeks to undo the Electoral Amendment Bill agreed by the parties in the inclusive government last year.
The Bill was gazetted on June 27, 2011, but was sent back to Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa after the Parliamentary Legal Committee issued an adverse report in which it objected to just one proposal over polling station-based voter registrattion.
Chinamasa had been expected to refine it before reintroducing it in the House.
The Bill proposed to give the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) the mandate “to supervise the registration of voters, to compile voters’ rolls and registers and to ensure the proper custody and maintenance of the voters’ rolls”.
But in an about-turn that MDC-T says is meant to frustrate the constitution-making process and maintain the uneven electoral playing field, Zanu PF now wants Registrar-General (RG) Tobaiwa Mudede to retain control of the voters’ roll.
The proposals, if accepted, will effectively see the Electoral Amendment Bill dying a natural death and clear the way for Zanu PF to manipulate the outcome of the polls that Mugabe wants held this year, analysts said.
MDC –T spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora said Zanu PF wanted to change Clause 13(8) of the draft constitution to ensure that ZEC’s role is reduced to supervising the registration of the voters’ roll.
The RG’s Office, which under Mudede is seen as pro-Zanu PF, would retain custody of the roll.
Mudede has in the past been accused of manipulating the voters’ roll, which has been found to contain names of children and an unusually high number of people aged above 100.
“Those discrepancies are enough evidence to show Mudede’s office is not the suitable office to keep the voters’ roll,” said Mwonzora, who is also Copac co-chairperson.
His Zanu PF counterpart Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana refused to comment on the issue saying this could not be addressed in the media.
“We cannot come to the media each time we have a dispute, I believe we should engage each other,” Mangwana said.
“It’s wrong to say Zanu PF alone is coming up with fresh demands.
“For example, MDC-T is demanding that all sitting judges in the High Court and Supreme Court should be dismissed, but we don’t go to the media, we engage them.”
However, Mwonzora dismissed Mangwana’s allegations saying the MDC parties only proposed the vetting of judges for the constitutional court and the establishment of an independent constitutional court.
“From the outreach responses, people want a constitutional court as a separate entity, not an appellate division of the Supreme Court,” Mwonzora said.
He said Zanu PF wanted the constitutional court to remain an appellant division of the Supreme Court under Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku to deal with constitutional matters including disputes in the presidential elections.
Under the Supreme Court, past electoral disputes took ages to be addressed and there were allegations that Justice Chidyausiku was partisan.
Zanu PF, it is alleged, had agreed to the setting-up of a constitutional court in January and the setting-up of an independent prosecuting authority from the Attorney General’s Office, but has since made a U-turn.
Isabel Mwonzora, the MDC-T secretary for legal affairs for Harare province, said the AG as a legal advisor to government should not be allowed to do national prosecution while there should also be a clear separation of powers between the Executive, Legislature and the Judiciary.
Justice and Legal Affairs deputy minister Obert Gutu said the Electoral Amendment Bill would be tabled “soon”.
Gutu said the Zanu PF demands especially those involving the running of elections were “a cocktail of disaster” simply meant to derail the constitution-making process.
Political analyst Alexander Rusero said the ongoing “proposals and disagreements” on the constitution-making process were a time-buying tactic by the political parties.
“Parties are proposing impossible demands to prolong the process because they are enjoying the status quo while everyone else suffers,” he said. “There is need for compromise and sincerity.”
The Copac management committee is currently meeting in Nyanga to try to resolve the outstanding issues.