Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is also the country’s Justice Minister yesterday said reforms to the Electoral Act to align it t the new constitution were completed on Monday and he is going to introduce 11 bills either today or on Tuesday for Parliament to ratify the process.
“We finished the reform amendments of the Electoral Act and I think it will be introduced either tomorrow (today) or next Tuesday here in Parliament,” he told Parliament yesterday in response to a question by Harare Central Member of Parliament Murisi Zwizwai.
“We have finished something like 11 Acts which relate to reforms relating to elections, procedures and registration of voters of whatever aspect you may want to think about. I think when we introduce these 11 Bills or so tomorrow or perhaps Tuesday.
“I would urge that members should acquaint themselves with these amendments in contrast with the provisions of the old Electoral Act which we are amending so that we will be able to ask pertinent and focused questions relating to the current situation, try to see and interrogate these new provisions as to whether they relate correctly or not, to the current Constitution,” he said.
Zimbabwe is holding two by-elections this month with the whole exercise from registration to conducting of the elections being handled by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.
The main opposition parties have boycotted the by-elections because they allege they are unconstitutional as the ZEC is supposed to be in charge of the whole exercise.
The parties have complained that the voters’ roll then administered by the Registrar-general was in shambles.
The ZEC said it was cleaning up that voters roll.
Q & A:
MR. ZWIZWAI: Thank you Mr. Speaker. My question is directed to the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs. The Voters Roll has always been a bone of contention in the previous election and electoral reforms have also been part of that problem. I would like to understand from the Minister, what measures his ministry is putting in place to make sure that electoral reforms and alignment of the Electoral Act is done expeditiously so that we have a clean Voters Roll and access to both the electronic and print form of the Voters Roll? I thank you.
THE VICE PRESIDENT AND MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (MR. MNANGAGWA): Mr. Speaker Sir, I thank the hon. member for asking that very pertinent and legitimate question. It is true that we have always had hiccups in relation to the Voters Roll and the Constitution which we adopted or granted unto ourselves as a nation removed the responsibility of preparing the Voters Roll from the Registrar General vaMudede’s Office to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) but the entire machinery which is used for that purpose also is used for other issues like births, deaths, marriages and so on. So it has been difficult to acquire resources as quickly as we would have wanted in order to capacitate ZEC to do it. However, the same Constitution provides in its provisions and gives authority to ZEC to access personnel qualified in the Civil Service to assist in the preparation of Voters Roll. So in compliance to that, we did formally transfer the registration of Voters Rolls from the Office of the Registrar General to ZEC. With regard to the alignment, we finished on Monday this week, two days ago. We finished the reform amendments of the Electoral Act and I think it will be introduced either tomorrow or next Tuesday here in Parliament. We have finished something like 11 Acts which relate to reforms relating to elections, procedures and registration of voters of whatever aspect you may want to think about. I think when we introduce these 11 Bills or so tomorrow or perhaps Tuesday, I would urge that members should acquaint themselves with these amendments in contrast with the provisions of the old Electoral Act which we are amending so that we will be able to ask pertinent and focused questions relating to the current situation, try to see and interrogate these new provisions as to whether they relate correctly or not, to the current Constitution. I thank you for asking the question.
MR. ZWIZWAI: Thank you Mr. Speaker. The law is very clear Mr. Speaker that, ZEC should do the registration, maintenance and custody of the Voters Rolls. In respect of the pilot registration processes in Chirumhanzu-Zibagwe and Mt. Darwin West, ZEC is not reregistering voters. There is a world of difference between voter registration and re-registration. What it is doing is just voter registration and in other words, it is going to maintain the Tobaiwa Mudede Voters Roll – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – because it is maintaining the old Voters Roll and only registering new voters instead of re-registering the voters. What measures are you putting in place that we have a clean Voters Roll which ZEC will do the registration, maintenance and custodianship of? I thank you.
VICE PRESIDENT MNANGAGWA: I am happy that the hon. Member has very correctly articulated what is happening and which is being done by ZEC, which is consistent with the provisions of the Constitution that, that entire Roll, now is assigned and mandated to ZEC. That is precisely what is happening and we are ensuring that what was happening in the past must now be removed and be cited, housed and mandated to ZEC and precisely that is what is happening. If he thinks that what we are doing is not consistent with the Constitution, the courts are open to challenge that it is not consistent. We have satisfied ourselves that what the Constitution says is what we must do and we are doing that to the letter – [HON. MEMBERS; Inaudible interjections.]-
MR. SPEAKER: Order, order, there is one Chair.
MR. S. CHIKWINYA: Thank you Mr. Speaker. I am glad to hear from the Leader of the House who is also the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs that they have satisfied themselves that what ZEC is currently doing is in accordance with the Constitution. I want to draw the memory of the Leader of the House that in December, the Chairperson of ZEC refused to register Dr. Gideon Gono as a voter in Manicaland, citing that there was no legal position to do so. There was no enabling Act but under the same conditions, they have managed to register people in Chirumhanzu and Mt Darwin West. Under what enabling Act are they doing that?
THE VICE PRESIDENT (MR. MNANGAGWA): While the hon. member is correct, what he is not correct about is the question of time. When the Chairperson of ZEC made the statement, she was not referring to incidences that had happened in December. She was referring to incidences that had happened in May, prior to them having assumed the duties as I have articulated. I thank you.