General Laws Amendment falls short

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THE Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) has said the recently-gazetted General Laws Amendment Act (GLAA) falls short in addressing the shortcomings of the Electoral Act.
In a statement yesterday, Zesn said government did not incorporate input from other stakeholders before passing the law.

BY MUNESU NYAKUDYA

GLAA is an omnibus law that introduces some amendments to various laws, including the Electoral Act, to bring them into alignment with the Constitution adopted in 2013.

“Zesn believes that the Act does not sufficiently address fundamental issues related to the Electoral Act such as the right to vote, the special vote, delimitation and media access, among other issues,” it said in a statement.

The issue of the Diaspora vote was one of the most contentious matters that the negotiating parties to the new Constitution spent hours debating.

It added: “Zesn notes with concern that the GLAA offers piecemeal reforms and fails to align the most substantive provisions related to the Electoral Act to fully comply with the Constitution. This appears to be a result of the omnibus approach taken by the legislature to amend more than one-hundred legislative instruments via the GLAA.”

The civil organisation, which has a mandate to oversee the running of elections in the country, said the proposed changes also fail to meet the new constitutional dispensation on management of the voters’ roll.

“The amendments do not conform with the Constitution to the extent the Act requires the (Zimbabwe Electoral) Commission to share responsibilities with the Office of the Registrar-General of Votes, an office that is effectively abolished by the Constitution and the Act,” it argued.

The Constitution says the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) should be responsible for registering voters, compiling the voters’ roll and ensuring the proper custody and maintenance of the voters’ roll from the Registrar of Voters to the Zec.

Zesn further noted with concern that the Executive still had significant influence in the running of elections in the country under the new law.

“The amendments bring in the Executive into the election management processes by giving a significant role to the minister in some of the electoral processes. This is contrary to the letter and spirit of the Constitution that establishes an electoral management body with the exclusive mandate to manage election independent of any other legal person or arm of government,” Zesn said.