MP in campaign against hate speech

MDC proportional representative MP Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga says she is lobbying Parliament to amend the Electoral Act so that it penalises political parties and candidates that promote hate speech or discriminate against female candidates.

BY VENERANDA LANGA

The proposals are contained in the Electoral Amendment Bill, which was supposed to be debated last week, but was deferred after the majority of Zanu PF MPs bunked the session amid reports they were preparing for their party’s primary elections.

“The amendments that I am pushing for in the Electoral Amendment Bill are to ensure that section 17 of the Constitution is included as a preamble of the Electoral Amendment Act so that every provision is guided by that proviso,” Misihairabwi-Mushonga told NewsDay yesterday.

Section 17 of the Constitution demands promotion of full gender balance in Zimbabwean society, full participation of women in all spheres of society, equal representation of genders in all institutions and agencies, and that women constitute at least half the membership in all commissions, as well as access to all resources by women.

“My amendments will also call for establishment of a code of conduct that should empower the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to disqualify any candidate or party that is involved in violence including hate speech, particularly the speeches that are being made in social media and disqualification of those political parties that do not adhere to the 50/50 gender representation,” Misihairabwi-Mushonga said.

Legal think-tank Veritas, however, cast doubts on the constitutionality of Misihairabwi-Mushonga’s proposed amendments to the Bill.

“Unfortunately, some of these amendments would in themselves be unconstitutional and even if voted for, would not pass the inspection of the Parliamentary Legal Committee,” Veritas said.

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