Veritas Draft Electoral Amendment Bill - updated 2018

This Bill was prepared by Veritas as a more comprehensive alternative to the Government's Electoral Amendment Bill 2017, currently going through Parliament (March 2018).

 

This Bill will amend the Electoral Act [Chapter 2:13] to align it more closely with the Constitution and to facilitate the holding of free and fair elections.  The main focus of the amendments are the following:

  • To enhance the independence of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).
  • To give ZEC more control over the accreditation of election observers, and to allow accredited observers to monitor all electoral processes.
  • To provide more clearly for polling station voters rolls, i.e. voters rolls covering the areas served by polling stations, instead of ward or constituency rolls.
  • To provide for the biometric registration of voters, to allow voters to be registered without having to prove residence, and to ensure that voter registration certificates are not used for voting purposes if their holders are not registered on a voters roll.
  • To make voters rolls more accessible.
  • To remove ZEC’s monopoly on the provision of voter education.
  • To oblige ZEC to enact codes of conduct to be observed by traditional leaders, members of the disciplined forces (i.e. security services) and civil servants.
  • To allow citizens who cannot cast their votes at polling stations to vote by post.
  • To make the Electoral Court a specialised division of the High Court.
  • To extend the grounds for challenging elections in line with the Constitution and to streamline the hearing of election petitions.

 

In addition to amending the Electoral Act to achieve these objectives, the Bill will correct several errors and anomalies in the Act.  For example, administrative difficulties have arisen as a result of the Electoral Act conferring functions on ZEC’s Chief Elections Officer (i.e. its chief executive officer) rather than on ZEC itself.  The implication is that the Chief Elections Officer can exercise these functions independently of ZEC rather than as an employee of ZEC.  The true constitutional position is that the Chief Elections Officer, like all other employees of ZEC, must exercise his or her functions subject to ZEC’s control and supervision.  The constitutional position needs to be restored.  The Bill will do this and correct other defects in the Electoral Act.

 

As well as amending the Electoral Act, the Bill will amend the Rural District Councils Act [Chapter 29:13] and the Urban Councils Act [Chapter 29:15] to bring their provisions relating to elections into line with sections 160 and 161 of the Constitution.  Those sections give ZEC responsibility for determining the boundaries of wards in local authorities, whereas the Acts purport to vest responsibility in the President and the Minister of Local Government

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