Zec should report to parly: Lobby groups

AMENDMENTS to laws governing elections in Zimbabwe should provide that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) will report to Parliament, two poll lobby groups have urged.

BY RICHARD CHIDZA

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) and the Electoral Resource Centre (ERC) in a statement reflecting on the current amendments before the National Assembly said while they noted there were progressive areas, there were grey areas that need urgent attention.

“That the independence of the Zec is fundamental and, therefore, the election management body ought to report to Parliament, be able to make regulations without approval from the minister and its funding should come from the consolidated revenue fund.

“The law should reflect that Zec has full and sole mandate of all election processes,” the two groups said.

The statement also urged Zec to waive accreditation fees for election observers, ensure far-reaching media reforms, to allow political parties to enjoy equitable coverage by the public broadcaster.

The lobby groups, however, paid tribute to parties represented in the National Assembly, describing proposals to the Electoral Amendment Bill by Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi, MDC-T chief whip Innocent Gonese and the MDC’s Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga as “progressive”.

Zesn and ERC said the proposals to align Section 161 of the Electoral Act making the Electoral Court a division of the High Court. Repeal of section 40F of the Electoral Act which prohibited foreign funding for voter education, (and the) proposal for a cap for number of ballot papers to be printed to not exceed the 10% threshold as notable positives.

Other grey areas identified include a proposal limiting the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission to the role of observer instead of monitor during elections.

“(The) proposals that; ‘Before issuing any report on an election or electoral process it has monitored in terms of this section, the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission shall provide the commission with a draft of the report and shall pay due regard to any comments the commission may make on the draft’ are worrying because they undermine the independence of Zec,” added the statement.

“Section 40K — proposal to accord ZHRC observer status — is not progressive; ZHRC must monitor observance of human rights without undue influence or unnecessary restrictions.”

Zesn and ERC said the Parliament needed to expedite the amendments ahead of elections expected later this year.

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