Electoral Amedment hearings suspended due to ZPF violence

Intimidation and vocal disruptions by ZANU PF elements during public hearings on the Electoral Amendment Bill have forced the parliamentary committee to call for written submissions only, in order to protect contributors.

It is not clear whether hearings will proceed in some areas, but a decision to cancel public hearings in at least three districts was reached after ZANU PF thugs caused chaos that made it impossible for people to make contributions freely.

The latest incident was reported in Masvingo, where on Wednesday a group made up mostly of ZANU PF women repeatedly broke into song whenever suspected MDC supporters were expressing their views on the electoral process in Zimbabwe.

On Monday in Marondera, hearings taking place at Nehanda Hall were cancelled after ZANU PF supporters prevented anyone suspected to be MDC from contributing to the debate, again by chanting slogans and singing songs. People were also verbally threatened.

Makoni South MP Pishai Muchauraya, who is also a portfolio committee member conducting the hearings, told SW Radio Africa they moved the Marondera hearings miles away to Headlands Community Hall. This excluded many residents who wanted to contribute their views.

The Marondera hearings marked the beginning of nationwide public consultations on the Electoral Amendment Bill, which was scheduled to end in Harare on the 24th October.

Seiso Moyo, the MDC-T secretary for elections, told SW Radio Africa that he believes the parliamentary committee will try to proceed with public hearings in the remaining areas. But all areas affected by disruptions would revert to written submissions only.

“This is rather unfortunate because these hearings are part of the parliamentary process of involving ordinary people in making laws for their country,” Moyo explained, adding: “The committee is composed of members from all three parties in the unity government and it would be very unfortunate if ZANU PF is behind the disruptions.”

Pressed on the issue of ZANU PF violence Moyo said he had not yet received a final report from the portfolio committee on constitutional affairs, but he was aware the perpetrators had been singing ZANU PF songs and chanting party slogans. Others claimed to be war vets.

Professor Ken Mufuka from the Global Zimbabwe Forum said postal submissions would cut off the majority of the population. Many would not be able to afford paper and postage and some would need assistance to write their ideas out clearly.

“The writing process is not as easy as it appears and many people would need help. This cuts a large majority of the people and only party operatives would submit their ideas,” Mufuka told SW Radio Africa on Thursday.

The same strategy of intimidation and disruptions marred the constitutional amendment hearings that were held around the country, severely delaying the process.

Mufuka pointed to this ongoing intimidation as proof that the environment in the country is still far from being conducive to holding peaceful elections. “It is clear that ZANU PF is resisting electoral changes that would level the playing field and regional leaders must adopt a tougher stance against Mugabe and his party,” the Professor explained.

Post published in: Politics

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