Repeal laws that hinder free polls: Chasi

THE Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice yesterday recommended that there must be amendments or a repeal of laws that hinder the smooth running of elections such as the Public Order and Security Act (POSA), the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) and the Broadcasting Services Act (BSA).

BY VENERANDA LANGA

Chairperson of the committee Fortune Chasi said this while presenting a committee report on the Second Reading Stage of the Electoral Amendment Bill 2017 in the National Assembly.

“The committee recommends that there is need for amendment or outright appeal of statutes that hinder the smooth flow of elections such as POSA, AIPPA and BSA,” Chasi said.

“The Bill should address issues of the rights to vote for people in the Diaspora, prisons, those at hospitals and those on duty, such as doctors and nurses,” he said.

The committee also recommended that a clause must be included in the Bill to provide for how people living with disabilities can be assisted during voting day.

“The Minister of Justice Ziyambi Ziyambi needs to table an all-encompassing Bill on electoral reforms to make the Electoral law compliant with the Constitution. The Bill must also have measures that eliminate electoral violence, and a clause to require the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) to print voter registration and polling materials in local languages and braille,” the committee said.

Chasi said during public hearings on the Bill people unanimously called for the Electoral Law to be fully harmonised with the Constitution.

“On voter registration, the general call was that it should be automatic registration when people apply for identity cards because youths and women faced problems when registering because of many requirements like proof of residence,” Chasi said.

The committee report said that during public hearings on the Bill some people said that requirements of proof of residence must be scrapped.

Chasi said in Bulawayo there was a call that there be a blanket amnesty for Matabeleland North and South residents to get birth certificates and identity documents because of displacements during the Gukurahundi era which resulted in their late parents not getting burial orders because they had no IDs.

“People said Zec must be adequately funded and be an apolitical commission. They said the military and security personnel should not be involved in the running of elections,” Chasi said.

Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi said the Bill, when passed will provide for smooth registration of voters and ensure the Electoral Act is in compliance with section 157 (1) (b) of the Constitution which provides that the Act provides for registration of voters.

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