On Tuesday, May 8, 2018, the Parliament of Zimbabwe will debate the Electoral Amendment Bill.
CiZC reiterates that amendment of the country’s Electoral Act is a precursor to free, fair and credible elections in 2018 among other key demands.
Free, fair and credible polls are critical for democracy and development and CiZC notes with great concern, previous sentiments from the ruling party, Zanu (PF) politicians that there is no need for electoral reforms in Zimbabwe.
CiZC challenges the ‘new dispensation’ to walk the talk on their pledge to uphold democracy and ensure that the rule of law prevails in Zimbabwe. The Electoral Amendment Bill debate will serve as a litmus test on the commitment to credible elections.
Previously, the ruling party, Zanu (PF) was on record that they will not reform themselves out of power (in reference to electoral reforms) and we expect a paradigm shift from this position.
The issue of electoral reforms has been very much contested and this has seen piecemeal amendments to the Electoral Act with Zanu (PF) apparently using its parliamentary majority to frustrate efforts towards aligning the act with the country’s constitution.
There has also been a deliberate attempt by the State media to misinform the general public on the urgency of electoral reforms and this points to a deliberate ploy to block electoral reforms before the 2018 elections.
CiZC would like to state that amendments to the country’s Electoral Act are critical in leveling the playing ground ahead of the 2018 especially through ensuring that there is enhanced independence and transparency of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), improved access to voting material and the voters’ roll by all contestants, equal access to state media, a code of conduct for traditional leaders and members of the police and the military as well as extending the grounds for the hearing of election petitions.
Reforms to the Electoral Act are thus key determinants of the credibility of the upcoming 2018 elections and CiZC reiterates that in line with Section 130 of the constitution, Parliament has the role to initiate and consider legislation.
Prior to the Electoral Amendment Bill debate, CiZC as a coordinating body for Civic Society Organizations (CSOs) in Zimbabwe held various consultative meetings with political parties and CSOs on the need for reforms to the country’s Electoral Act.
During the consultative meetings, which culminated in CiZC submitting a communique to the Parliament of Zimbabwe, there was commitment from the parties (including Zanu PF) to implement reforms to the country’s Electoral Act.
We therefore challenge the political parties represented in Parliament to walk the talk on electoral reforms.
CiZC will continue to mobilize ordinary Zimbabweans to demand free, fair and credible elections in 2018.
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