ZIMBABWE Electoral Commission (Zec) chairperson, Justice Rita Makarau, yesterday revealed that although the Constitution provides for all eligible voters, including those in the Diaspora, to cast their votes wherever they are, her commission could not implement the provision before the enabling legislation has been aligned to the Constitution.
by BLESSED MHLANGA/MUNESU NYAKUDYA
Speaking at a meeting with representatives of various political parties in Harare, Makarau said, while there was a code of conduct for political parties and candidates, there was no provision for punishment or censure for candidates caught on the wrong side of the law.
“We are the ones, as Zec, who raised this matter of universal suffrage which is captured in the Constitution, but the problem is the enabling legislation has not been aligned to the Constitution,” she said.
“You will remember that in 2002, there was a High Court judgment, which said people can vote from wherever they are in a presidential election and there was much celebration, but as it stands, we have a Supreme Court judgment, which on appeal quashed that ruling and said you should vote from your ward,” she said.
Justice Makarau was responding to MDC-T secretary-general, Douglas Mwonzora, who had cited constitutional provisions allowing for all Zimbabweans to vote regardless of their location.
Mwonzora said it would be unfair for Zec to say Diasporans could only vote if they present themselves at a polling station in Zimbabwe.
“The Constitution says every Zimbabwean has the right to vote, it does not say every Zimbabwean in Mutorashanga or in Rushinga should vote. It should not cost a Zimbabwean more than another Zimbabwean to vote. If a Zimbabwean in the United States of America has to come here to vote, their vote will cost them $3 000,” he said.
Mwonzora said prisoners and those previously classified as aliens should be allowed to vote in the forthcoming elections.
Zec said it would give a comprehensive response on the Diaspora vote during the next platform meeting on January 19.
Justice Makarau also took flak from political party representatives, who accused her of failing to act against Zanu PF candidates, who had been fingered in fanning violence during elections and dishing out food and land just ahead of polls.
The parties resolved to push for the amendment of the fourth schedule of the Electoral Code of Conduct for Political Parties and Candidates in a move that will see Zec having power to punish candidates who violate the code.