Electoral Amendment Bill, 2017 - Report by Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs

This report was presented in the National Assembly by Committee Chairperson Hon Fortune Chasi on Thursday 15th February 2018.

The report ends thus:

3.0 RECOMMENDATIONS

Having analysed the Bill, gathered the contributions from Zimbabweans across the country, and guided by Sections 119 and 155 of the Constitution, the Committee is pleased to make the following recommendations which must all be implemented by 31st March, 2018:

3.1. The Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs needs to table before Parliament a Bill with all-encompassing electoral reforms in order to make the Act compliant with the Constitution.

3.2. The Bill must provide for enforceable punitive measures to eliminate political violence before, during and after elections.

3.3. There must be a clear provision for voter education as a requirement before polls.

3.4. The Bill must have a clause which will require ZEC to print voter education and polling materials in Braille and all the official languages of Zimbabwe.

3.5. The Electoral Court must be reconstituted in terms of section 183 of the Constitution in order to create conflict management mechanisms at all stages of the electoral cycle.

3.6. A clause must be inserted providing for how the disabled can be assisted as well as for the setting up of polling infrastructure which addresses the challenges of the physically handicapped.

3.7. The Bill should provide for the disabled and illiterate to choose who should assist them inside the polling booth to vote.

3.8. The Bill should also address the right to vote of those in the diaspora, prisoners, those in hospitals, allow for a special vote for those who will be away on duty on the day of the polls such as doctors and nurses.

3.9. ZEC must be allowed its independence so that it has power to invite foreign observers and approve local and international observers as well.

3.10. There is need for amendment or outright repeal of statutes that have an inimical impact on elections such as POSA, AIPPA and the Broadcasting Services Act.

3.11. The Electoral Amendment Bill should give effect to Section 17 of the Constitution by making provision for gender equality so that the 50% women’s quota threshold is clearly implemented and guaranteed in all elections.

3.12. Clause 133H(2) of the Electoral Act should be amended so that the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) is not included as part of the Special Investigations Committee, but has power to carry out its own independent investigations. This will ensure the independence of the ZHRC.

3.13. In order to uphold the provisions of Sections 67 and 243 (1) of the Constitution, the Bill should clearly give ZHRC the mandate to monitor, assess and ensure the observance of human rights before, during and after elections.

In future, in order to ensure the highest quality of legislation, legal framework for elections must be planned for well in advance.

4.0 CONCLUSION

A comprehensive approach to amending the Electoral Act would address many gaps in the electoral law and inconsistencies to the Constitution, thereby bringing voter confidence to the polls. This would also create a conducive environment for credible, free and fair elections.

 

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