THE opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has intensified calls for electoral law reform following South Africa’s third democratic election since the fall of apartheid in 1994.
MDC secretary-general Wel-shman Ncube said his party wanted fundamental changes to the electoral system to ensure free and fair elections.
He said Zimbabwe should learn from South Africa how to conduct elections in a democratic and civilised way. South Africans went to the polls on Wednesday in an election pronounced by parties themselves and electoral authorities as free and fair.
“What is happening in South Africa is what we are simply calling for, that is free and fair elections run by an independent authority which is managed by impartial officers,” he said.
“We want Zimbabwe to adhere to the Sadc (Southern African Development Community) norms and standards for elections. Zimbabwe is the only country in the region which runs polls on the basis of profoundly flawed and undemocratic laws.”
The MDC has now repackaged and consolidated its original 15 demands on electoral reform into five broad items that still capture the gist of their basic concerns.
Ncube said his party wanted a conducive political climate and restoration of confidence in the electoral system; assurance of the secret ballot as well as voting and counting of votes in one day; restoration of the rule of law and impartial conduct by state security agents during campaigns; and the restoration of political and civil liberties.
He said Zimbabwe should adopt elements of the South African electoral system to ensure elections did not produce illegitimate and dictatorial regimes that subverted the people’s will in polls.
“I’m quite sure we won’t hear any parties in South Africa complaining about blatant electoral fra-ud or vote-rigging like here in Zimbabwe,” he said.
“Their system is tight and works well. Whatever problems such as political violence in provinces like KwaZulu/Natal there was no state involvement. In fact, the ruling party (African National Congress) endlessly preached the message of the need for a peaceful election.”
Ncube said the situation in Zimbabwe was different because government wreaks havoc during every election.
“Here we have aruling party and gov-ernment that con-sistently unleash vio-lence on a massive scale and commit electoral fraud during every election,” he said.
“Now instead ofamending the Ele-ctoral Act to improve the organisation and running of elections the government has made changes which will make the situation worse.”
Ncube said the recent modification of the electoral law was designed to ensure a predetermined outcome for Zanu PF in next year’s general election.
“The registrar-general (of ele-ctions) now has power to unilaterally remove names of registered voters from the roll and Zanu PF functionaries in electoral agencies have been given more power to control the electoral process,” he said.
“This negates all the reforms we are calling for and, indeed, the Sadc norms and standards for elections.”