Chinamasa rejected the distribution of electronic voters’ roll


0

Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa rejected an amendment to the Electoral Act requiring the registrar-general to provide electronic copies of the voters’ roll to all parties arguing that electronic rolls could be tampered with.

He also rejected another proposed amendment by the Movement for Democratic Change to have translucent ballot boxes saying this was an administrative, not legislative, matter and that he had already announced his decision to use translucent ballot boxes.

The Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front and the MDC, however, agreed on a wide range of amendments aimed at levelling the playing field ahead of the 2005 elections.

The amendments included guarantees to the right of all parties to access media and to campaign and the right of citizens to participate in civic organisations to influence and challenge government policies, the use of indelible ink on ballots, the extension of voting hours to 12, and allowance of every voter in line at the close of polling hours to vote.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 04HARARE2053, SECOND ELECTORAL BILL PASSES ZIM PARLIAMENT

If you are new to these pages, please read an introduction on the structure of a cable as well as how to discuss them with others. See also the FAQs

Reference ID

Created

Classification

Origin

04HARARE2053

2004-12-17 10:32

UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

Embassy Harare

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

 

171032Z Dec 04

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 002053

 

SIPDIS

 

SENSITIVE

 

AF/S FOR BNEULING

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVILLE, D. TEITELBAUM

PARIS FOR C. NEARY

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL ZI

SUBJECT: SECOND ELECTORAL BILL PASSES ZIM PARLIAMENT

 

REF: HARARE 2003

 

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: On December 16, Parliament passed the

Electoral Bill, the second of the electoral reform bills

(reftel). The bill incorporated amendments proposed by both

parties, (though not all the MDC’s proposals) and was not

rejected by the MDC-dominated Parliamentary Legal Committee.

If implemented, the bill would improve certain aspects of

election administration, but it did not address many of the

election environment’s key flaws. END SUMMARY.

 

2. (U) The Electoral Bill will replace the existing Electoral

Act and complements the recently passed Zimbabwe Electoral

Commission (ZEC) Bill. On December 17, the government-run

Herald newspaper proclaimed that Zimbabwe, with the passage

of both bills, was now compliant with the SADC election

guidelines and principles. The Electoral Bill clarifies some

of the functions of the Electoral Supervisory Commission

(ESC) and the Registrar-General, both of which are

constitutional bodies; sets out the procedures for

registration of voters; creates an Electoral Court to deal

with registration disputes; and details some aspects of the

conduct of elections. The bill, as did the previous

Electoral Act, requires an individual to be resident in a

constituency in order to register to vote there, and an

individual can be removed from the voter roll if absent from

the constituency for twelve continuous months.

 

3. (U) The bill received a non-adverse report from the

Parliamentary Legal Committee, which decides on the

constitutionality of proposed bills and is composed of a

majority of MDC MPs. The Justice Committee, the Minister of

Justice, and the MDC proposed several amendments to the bill,

many of which were accepted. The amendments include

guarantees to the right of all parties to access media and to

campaign and the right of citizens to participate in civic

organizations to influence and challenge government policies,

the use of indelible ink on ballots, the extension of voting

hours to 12, and allowance of every voter in line at the

close of polling hours to vote.

 

4. (U) However, not all MDC amendments were accepted. The

bill as passed allows the ESC to choose its staff from within

civil service and may include members of the uniformed

forces. The MDC proposed an amendment to allow the ESC to

recruit staff from outside of the civil service and objected

to the possible secondment of the uniformed forces to the ESC

staff, as their presence could intimidate voters. The MDC

also proposed an amendment to allow relatives of disabled or

illiterate voters to assist them in voting. Instead, the

bill provides for a monitor (an ESC staff member) and a

police officer for those in need of assistance. An

MDC-proposed amendment for translucent ballot boxes was

rejected, as Minister of Justice Patrick Chinamasa said it

was an administrative, not legislative, matter and that he

had already announced his decision to use translucent ballot

boxes. Finally, the MDC proposed an amendment requiring the

Registrar-General to provide electronic copies of the voter

roll to all parties, which was rejected by Chinamasa on the

basis that electronic rolls were subject to tampering.

 

5. (SBU) COMMENT: The Government,s claim that the Electoral

Bill and the ZEC Bill make it compliant with the SADC

election principles is at best overstated. The adoption of

some of the MDC,s amendments to the Electoral bill is

encouraging, and some of the Government’s procedural

concessions were constructive and meaningful, if not decisive

moves toward free and fair elections. However, voter rolls

historically have been central to MDC complaints of elections

shortcomings, and the failure to liberalize access to

electronic rolls is a potentially damaging and ominous

disappointment. Another major disappointment is the failure

to provide for absentee voting for millions of Zimbabwean

citizens resident abroad. In addition, provisions on media

access and freedom to campaign offer the opposition legal

tools for the campaign season, but it remains to be seen

whether this self-serving expression of political will by the

ruling party will translate into concrete action if the MDC

re-enters the race. In this vein, police continue to deny

MDC applications for meetings, but several MDC officials

report that there is a clear trend to be more permissive on

almost a nationwide basis. While the GOZ may intend only to

make disingenuous gestures to sell its election to the

international community, the marginal opening of election

space may present the opposition with meaningful

opportunities to re-connect with and re-energize a

politically alienated electorate.

DELL

 

(7 VIEWS)

Don't be shellfish... Please SHARETweet about this on Twitter
Twitter
Share on Facebook
Facebook
Share on LinkedIn
Linkedin
Email this to someone
email
Print this page
Print

Like it? Share with your friends!

0
Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

0 Comments

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *