The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) could conduct elections for the Speaker of the House of Assembly and the President of the Senate, a move aimed at enhancing secrecy of the vote in Parliament, if the new draft constitution is passed.
Clause 6.7 (4) and 6.11 (4) of the draft states that: “Elections to the office of the Speaker of the House of Assembly must be conducted by the chairperson of ZEC or his or her nominee, by secret ballot in accordance with standing orders, and the results must be announced forthwith.”
In separate interviews yesterday, Copac co-chairpersons Douglas Mwonzora and Edward Mkhosi hailed the proposed new law, saying it was likely to deal with problems reminiscent of what happened last year when Tsholotsho MP Jonathan Moyo took Speaker Lovemore Moyo’s election to the Supreme Court on allegations of lack of secrecy.
The Speaker of the House of Assembly will also be the head of Parliament, contrary to Zanu PF’s assertion that President of the Senate was in charge. Currently, the position of President of Senate is held by Chegutu Senator Edna Madzongwe (Zanu PF).
“At one time we had a Supreme Court challenge on the conduct of elections of the Speaker of the House of Assembly and now with the coming-in of ZEC we expect that all elections are going to be by secret ballot,” Mwonzora said.
“Section 6.20 (1) of the new constitution says the Speaker of the House of Assembly is the head and Section 6.20 (2) stipulates the President of the Senate is the deputy head of Parliament and acts as head only when the Speaker is unable to do so for any reason.”
According to the new governance charter, swearing-in of the Speaker and President of the Senate will now be done by the Chief Justice unlike in the past when the Clerk of Parliament presided over the ceremony.
“Every election conducted in Zimbabwe should be under ZEC because they are the ones mandated to conduct elections by the Constitution. Infighting in Parliament during elections was because the Clerk of Parliament conducted these elections,” Mkhosi said.
The new draft charter also stipulates the minimum age for one to qualify as senator will be 40 years, while for MPs in the House of Assembly the age limit will be 21 years.