Legal storm brews over Electoral Amendment Bill

The MDC-T and the Zimbabwe African People’s Union (Zapu) are warming up for a legal challenge against the Electoral Amendment Bill that was passed by Parliament last month without public input.

Eric Matinenga
Eric Matinenga

Zanu PF accused of forcing through bill without proper consultation.

Zimbabweans should be allowed vote wherever they are – in prison, in hospital or outside the country.

Media has role to inform people.

Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa has been accused of forcing the Bill through its third reading and Douglas Mwonzora, spokesperson for MDC-T, said his party would challenge it at the Constitutional Court.

Mjobise Noko, spokesperson for Zapu, said it was unfortunate that Zanu (PF) had gone back to its tiger way of doing things. “We are following the developments with interest and would definitely contest the unconstitutional Bill,” he said.

The Bill ignores the constitutional requirements that the voters’ roll be compiled by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission not the Registrar General’s office and that Zimbabweans should be allowed vote wherever they are – in prison, in hospital or outside the country.

Eric Matinenga, the former Constitutional Affairs Minister, said Section 85 (1) of the constitution allows anyone to approach the Constitutional Court if he feels that the Bill was unconstitutional.

“Though it is important for the nation to realise that the Bill cannot accommodate all the views expressed by the people, the consultative process should be taken seriously and not turned into a farce,” he warned.

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) has called on the media to inform the public on the situation regarding the alignment of laws with the constitution.

“Media has a crucial role to play in informing the nation about the gaps and achievements attained so far in making the laws reflective of the people’s wishes,” said Barbra Nyangairi, programmes coordinator with ZESN.

Dzimbabwe Chimbga, a human rights lawyer, said it was the role of the media to keep an eye on national issues such as proposed electoral systems and notify the public. Zimbabweans tended to give in to anything that was pushed down their throats by the powers that be without demanding their rights, he said.

“Zimbabweans would silently accept inconveniences caused by load shedding, inadequate service delivery, postponement of pay days among other rights,” Chimbga said. As the president had not yet signed the Bill, he urged people to do whatever they could – such as writing letters to the president expressing their dissatisfaction with the Bill.

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