Legal Think-tank Condemns The Proposed Electoral Bill

1 year agoMon, 17 Oct 2022 07:39:05 GMT
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Legal Think-tank Condemns The Proposed Electoral Bill

Legal think-tank Veritas has condemned the proposed Electoral Bill questioning the removal of driver’s licence as proof of identity and the rationale behind the proposed women and youths quotas.

Last Tuesday the Cabinet approved an Electoral Amendment Bill which was presented by the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.

Speaking during the post-Cabinet press briefing, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services minister Monica Mutsvangwa said the Bill seeks to amend the Electoral Act.  

Commenting on the Proposed Bill, Veritas said it is not clear how these quotas will apply. Said Veritas:

The Constitution already provides for:

· Sixty women members of the National Assembly to be elected on a party-list system [section 124 (1)(b) of the Constitution],

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· Ten youth members of the National Assembly also to be elected on a party-list system [section 124(1)(c) of the Constitution, as amended by Act 2 of 2021], and

· Senators to be elected on a party-list system in which male and female candidates must alternate on each list [section 120(2) of the Constitution].

Perhaps the Bill is going to require parties to have specified proportions of women and youths among their nominated candidates for constituency seats in the National Assembly, but whether it will do this and, if it will, how it will do it, will become clear only when the Bill is published.

We also note that Parliament already has quite enough proportionally-elected members. If there are too many of them Parliament will become unreasonably biased in favour of the party getting most votes, and may cease to be representative. This is because proportionally-elected members are elected on the basis of votes cast for constituency members and are not voted for separately, so each vote cast for a constituency member is also cast for one or more proportionally-elected members. Also, if proportionally elected members leave Parliament or die in mid-term they are not replaced through by elections so the electorate is not given a say in choosing their replacements.

Proof of identity

At present the Electoral Act defines proof of identity as including Zimbabwe passports, national IDs and drivers licences. The amendment will remove drivers licences from the list. What this will mean is that people who apply to be registered as voters will have to produce their passports or national IDs under section 24(6) of the Electoral Act – which is fair enough – but it will also mean that people who are already registered as voters will not be able to use their drivers licences to identify themselves at polling stations in terms of section 56(3) of the Act. They should be allowed to do this because drivers licences are a perfectly acceptable form of identification, and voters who come to a polling station should not have to prove their citizenship. They have already proved they are citizens when they were registered on the voters roll.

Recently, electoral stakeholders have since raised concerns over the secrecy surrounding the Electoral Amendment Bill 2022.

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