PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe is in the eye of a storm after he allegedly usurped Parliament’s powers and amended electoral laws ahead of the 2018 general elections.
BY BLESSED MHLANGA/PAIDAMOYO MUZULU
Using the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures), Mugabe amended the Electoral Act through Statutory Instrument 117 of 2017, a move which has been frowned at by the opposition and independent electoral watchdogs.
MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu yesterday accused Mugabe of unilaterally tampering with the 2013 Constitution, which provides that laws like the Electoral Act should only be amended by primary legislation.
“This type of amendment is aimed at usurping the constitutional functions of Parliament. You normally find this state of affairs in fascist and Stalinist dictatorships, where Parliament is weakened and emasculated.
“The fact of the matter is that Mugabe stubbornly has never really respected the role of Parliament in Zimbabwe. To him, Parliament is simply a window-dressing and rubber-stamping forum,” he said.
People’s Democratic Party spokesperson Jacob Mafume said: “The President is a player in the elections and he should not be making the rules because he now becomes the referee, we have just seen the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission chairlady (Rita Makarau) kneeling before him, making a mockery of the whole process.”
The Elections Resource Centre (ERC) castigated Mugabe, saying he had acted unconstitutionally by using Presidential powers to amend the law.
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“While the amended provisions of the Electoral Act have been an advocacy target for organisations working on elections in the past, it is regrettable that government has opted to take a potentially contestable route to address concerns around the legal framework for elections.
“If our elections are to be credible, they must be conducted within the confines of the law, meaning that even the rules for elections must be passed through constitutional and legal means,” ERC said. The proposed amendment seeks to bar use of voter registration certificates as proof that one is an eligible voter if that person’s name does not appear on the voters’ roll.
“This is a welcome amendment. The use of voter registration certificates in the July 2013 general election was a major bone of contention, as the registration slips were easily faked and the basis of many complaints of vote rigging and electoral fraud,” constitutional watchdog Veritas said.