JUSTICE Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday reached consensus with MDC-T MPs on the Electoral Amendment Bill and agreed to adjourn the second reading stage until public consultations were made.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
SENIOR PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER
Mnangagwa had brought the Electoral Amendment Bill before the National Assembly and told MPs that the proposed amendments on the Bill were only preliminary. He said another Electoral Amendment Bill would be brought before Parliament later to complete its alignment with the requirements of the new Constitution.
MDC-T Southerton MP Gift Chimanikire pressed Mnangagwa to allow for consultations on the Bill saying the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs chaired by Harare West MP Jessie Majome should be first allowed to make public consultations and recommendations before the National Assembly passed the Bill.
The Electoral Amendment Bill sailed through Senate last week amidst protests by MDC-T senators who felt their views were being ignored.
“Mnangagwa indicated that this is a preliminary Bill, and so we should not railroad the Bill into this House. There should be extensive public consultations because there are a lot of grey areas on the Bill,” Chimanikire said.
Mnangagwa said he would take on board any new ideas the opposition MDC-T and other stakeholders had on the Bill.
“Regulations that were passed through Presidential Powers to amend the Electoral Act before elections are valid for three months and what then happens after that is that Parliament proposes to pass a law to bring it into conformity with the provisions of the Constitution. This Bill is to perform crucial tasks of alignment, including issues of electoral reforms reached by extensive consultation by the three political parties in the government of national unity,” said Mnangagwa.
He said MPs should not oppose the passage of the Electoral Amendment Bill as a preliminary measure because thereafter, full alignment of the Electoral Act with the new constitution will be done.
“I therefore agree that relevant committees should consult and debate on this Bill and if they have any new ideas I will take them on board,” Mnangagwa said.