TWO independent electoral lobby groups, Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) and Electoral Resource Centre (ERC), have started lobbying for legislation compelling the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) to report to Parliament instead of being subservient to the Justice minister.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
In a joint statement yesterday, the groups said the move would help guarantee Zec’s independence.
“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 groups said.
They also urged Zec to waiver accreditation fees for election observers, implement 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 made the Electoral Court a division of the High Court.
They also proposed the repeal of section 40F of the Electoral Act, which prohibited foreign funding for voter education, (and the) proposal for a cap for the 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 [ZHRC] 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,” the statement added.
“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 Parliament needed to expedite the amendments ahead of elections expected later this year.