Electoral Act cannot be amended again before this year’s elections


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Although Zimbabwe’s elections are two months away and Parliament will continue to sit until the eve of the elections, the Electoral Amendment Act which was gazette on Monday cannot be amended again for the forthcoming general elections.

Parliamentary watchdog, Veritas, says that the constitution states that: “After an election has been called, no change to the Electoral Law or to any other law relating to elections has effect for the purpose of that election”.

The Movement for Democratic Change has threatened to shut down the country next week to force President Emmerson Mnangagwa to agree to electoral reforms.

Below is the full brief from Veritas:

ELECTION WATCH 18/2018

[31st May 2018]

The Electoral Act as Amended : Is it Now Constitutional?

Introduction

The Electoral Amendment Act was gazetted on the 28th May and came into operation on that date.  It is Act No. 6 of 2018 and is available on the Veritas website.

Note:  the Electoral Act, incorporating all amendments, is available on the Veritas website.

The Act cannot be amended again for the purpose of the forthcoming general election, which was called yesterday. Section 157(5) of the Constitution states “After an election has been called, no change to the Electoral Law or to any other law relating to elections has effect for the purpose of that election”.

Now is an appropriate time to ask:  does th the constitution e Act as currently amended comply with the Constitution?  The answer to that question, regrettably, is:  no, though the recent amendments have certainly improved the Act.

In this Election Watch we set out some of the main respects in which the Act remains constitutionally deficient.

1. The right to vote

Under section 67 (3) of the Constitution “every Zimbabwean citizen who is of or over 18 years of over age has the right to vote in all elections and referendums” and section 155(2)(b) says “The State must take all appropriate measures, including legislative measures” to ensure that every eligible citizen has an opportunity to vote.  Paragraph 1(2) of the Fourth Schedule to the Constitution allows the Electoral Law to prescribe residential requirements, but only “to ensure that voters are registered on the most appropriate voters roll” – not to prevent them from being registered at all.

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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.

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