ERC slams Parly’s lack of seriousness

The Election Resource Centre has expressed concern at the peace-meal manner in which parliament recently conducted the Public Hearings on the Electoral Amendment Bill.

ERC, Women in Politics Support Unit and the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association jointly petitioned parliament on April 8, warning that cosmetic public hearings would not be acceptable.

Parliament was urged to ensure that the spirit, true to provisions of Section 141 of the new Constitution, which insists that parliament must facilitate public involvement in its legislative and other processes, is observed.

According to a Press Statement released by ERC, the Public Hearings were conducted with limited publicity on the dates and venues of the hearings

There was limited circulation of the Electoral Amendment Bill in the localities of the venues of the public hearings and poor attendance by members of the Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee.

Out of the 23 members, ERC said, not more than five attended each of the hearings outside Harare.

Members of Parliament did not attended public hearings in their constituencies.

Some provinces were not covered and there was a general limited spread of the public hearings.

“Whereas Parliament and in particular the Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs should be commended for ensuring that the Public Hearings take place, it is deplorable that Members of Parliament elected to represent voters across the country did not see the importance of accounting to the electorate by taking the hearings seriously,” reads part of the Press Statement.

ERC reminded elected officials in Parliament that they owed their presence to the house to the voters who attended the eight public hearings across the country.

Parliament was implored to take seriously its constitutional mandate and ensure that future legislative processes which, constitutionally provide for meaningful public participation are taken seriously.

Despite the concern, ERC remained hopeful that the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs shall adequately capture views which were expressed by the public during the hearings in its Committee Report and consider adopting such views in the final draft of the Bill.

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