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Groups call for electoral law overhaul

Itai Dzamara

AS political tension intensifies amidst the country’s festering crisis, civil society, the clergy and the opposition have called for an overhaul of the electoral system ahead of parliamentary el

ections next year.


The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is under pressure from its supporters to consider boycotting the election unless major electoral changes are introduced.


Head of the MDC’s elections directorate Remus Makuwaza said this week the issue of electoral law amendments was a priority and his party had already taken it to parliament.


“We are unequivocal in our demand for the overhaul of the electoral system,” said Makuwaza. “We are calling for the establishment of conditions that enable the holding of free and fair elections.”


He added: “In essence, we are calling for the establishment of an Independent Electoral Commission as well as the repeal of the draconian Public Order and Security Act and the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act which have been used to give Zanu PF an unfair advantage.


“We have submitted proposals to parliament and will use our representation there to lobby for major changes. We are yet to get a response from parliament.”


Makuwaza said the issue of participation in the elections without major changes in electoral laws would be decided by the party’s national executive before the elections.


The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) is lobbying locally and regionally for major electoral amendments and has said no presidential or general elections should be held under the current framework.


ZESN chairman Reginald Matchaba-Hove said the non-governmental body wouldn’t accept the outcome of elections held under the current electoral laws.


“Our position is that there shouldn’t be any presidential or general elections held under the current electoral system,” said Matchaba-Hove.


“The system doesn’t in any way provide an environment conducive to free and fair elections.


“We are on a massive campaign to consult stakeholders at home and in the region on what would be the ideal electoral changes, and we will submit the suggestions to the public before we engage parliament.”


ZESN wants a set of minimum requirements in the electoral system that will satisfy the holding of free and fair elections in accordance with the Sadc protocol as well as other international tenets.


“We are calling for the respect of every person’s right to vote, the levelling of the field for all parties contesting as well as transparency in the running, conducting and supervision of the elections.”


Archbishop Pius Ncube, who is also the chairman of Solidarity Peace Trust in Southern Africa, concurred that the current electoral system favoured President Mugabe and his party.


“Any elections under this electoral framework would be rigged. In fact, the opposition would be very lucky to win even one seat,” said Ncube.


“There should be an overhaul of the system, there is no doubt about it. However, the issue of boycotting is rather complicated because Mugabe would just go ahead to declare himself victorious and continue ruling.”

National Constitutional Assembly chairman Lovemore Madhuku said the issue of electoral changes was of paramount importance so that demonstrations and acts of civil disobedience would soon be planned by the assembly to push for changes.


“The result of elections held under this framework is predetermined and will be won by Zanu PF. This system simply creates a technical way by which Zanu PF remains in power whether the electorate likes it or not,” said Madhuku.

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