Young MPs may help drive electoral reform agenda, says expert

Elections specialist Taona Mwanyisa has opined that the coming in of youthful Members of Parliament (MPs) may help drive the electoral reform agenda.

This comes after the election of youthful legislators for both Zanu PF and Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) in the recent elections.

In a statement, the Election Resource Centre (ERC) said that based on Mwanyisa’s analysis, the ushering of a parliament with young legislators may help drive the electoral agenda.

“While tensions within the country and threats of violence remain high, the ushering in of a parliament made up of mostly young legislators may help drive the electoral reform agenda. The events of the past harmonized election have presented the newly sworn-in members of parliament with an opportunity to continue pushing for reforms that level the electoral playing field,” said Mwanyisa.

He said the current political context offers real possibilities for deeper electoral reforms that can help consolidate democratic rule.

“The election has provided an opportunity to advance the democratic process in the country, but this can only happen if meaningful changes are made to the electoral landscape.”

Mwanyisa said the members of the 10th parliament have an opportunity to legitimize their wins in future elections by ensuring a level playing field in the electoral architecture of the country.

“They can do this by pushing for electoral reforms aggressively. To this end, the new members of parliament have a role to play in ensuring that the electoral architecture governing the conduct of future elections allows for free and equal participation by all citizens,” he said.

Mwanyisa added that this is not to suggest that previous sittings of parliament have not played a significant role in advocating for electoral reforms. In fact, the improved electoral environment, and subsequent improvements to the electoral laws over the years have been attributed to reforms that ensured laws are aligned to regional and international election standards governing the conduct of elections.

Meanwhile, the election analyst said civil society organizations in the country have played a crucial role, if not the leading role, in advocating for electoral reforms.

“Leading Zimbabwe election oversight organizations such as the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) and the Election Resource Centre (ERC) have driven the agenda for electoral reforms through the publication of policy briefs, position papers on electoral reforms, and petitions to parliament.”

However, he said with the swearing-in of the members of parliament, there is clear evidence that the focus must now be on electoral reform.

“The agenda for electoral reform must not be placed at the end of the list of issues that the parliament must consider. The previous parliament focused on amendments that further restricted citizen participation in both the political and electoral processes of the country.”

Mwanyisa said the focus of reform should now be on essential reforms that improve political representation, political legitimacy, and political inclusion.

“This includes reviewing all legislation that has a bearing on the political and electoral environment and in turn on the electoral process and results thereof. One such important reform is to extend the franchise and the right to vote to all citizens of Zimbabwe, regardless of where they are domiciled in the world. This would be a prudent step towards electoral inclusion, and to this end, laws that allow for diaspora voting must be enacted.”

He said the reform agenda must also focus on improving the coherence and sufficiency of electoral laws, especially the alignment of the electoral laws to the constitution and the enforcement of laws such as the Traditional Leaders Act and constitutional provisions on the neutrality of traditional leaders

Post published in: Featured

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *