NEWS that the government intends to expedite amendments to electoral laws by calling back the legislators is welcome, but we caution that the changes must be thorough and not to just fast-track the legislation for the sake of it.
There has been a lot of inconsistencies from the government regarding the electoral laws culminating in a desperate need for clarity on the way forward.
Both President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi have on different occasions given contradicting statements on the need for electoral reforms and the amendments will provide direction on whether the country is serious about holding free, fair and credible polls.
Ziyambi has in the past said any amendments to the electoral law would be cosmetic, as the Constitution covers all the issues that the civil society has raised.
It is trite to mention that there are several sections of the Electoral Act not in sync with the Constitution and the government is hard-pressed to ensure that this anomaly is corrected.
In that regard there should be an enabling law that follows the tenets of democracy rather than an absurdity, where the law is not aligned to the country’s supreme law.
Already, the Electoral Resource Centre has said the proposed Bill falls far short of requirements and if the government is serious about the credibility of elections then this is an issue that they should deal with and ensure that all changes are implemented.
We have mentioned this several times, but to emphasise on the point, the government should ensure that all political players have access to State media, not just before elections but every time.
Elections should not just be seen as a one-day event, but rather a process and a cycle, which starts the moment when the previous poll results are announced.
Thus, no party should hog the limelight in State media at the expense of others, with every organisation guaranteed its fair share of space and to be covered objectively.
The last polls were farcical because the government simply refused with the voters’ roll and there’s every reason to suspect that the chicanery started there.
Electoral laws should ensure that parties have access to the voters’ register within a reasonable time.
It is also imperative that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission reaffirms its independence and steers clear of political influence.
The list is not exhaustive and the amendments that Ziyambi is talking about should not just be about placating the opposition and civil society organisations, but should be comprehensive enough for posterity’s sake.