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Watchdog confronts Bonyongwe on poll reforms

14/11/2017 00:00:00
by Staff reporter

THE Election Resource Centre (ERC) has written to Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Happyton Bonyongwe demanding more comprehensive electoral reforms during current efforts to amend the Electoral Act.

Zimbabwe gears for a high stakes election in less than a year with the Zanu PF led government often accused of resisting opposition demands for a level playing field.

Government, through Bonyongwe’s ministry, has since tabled the Electoral Amendment Bill HB 06, 2017 which the poll watchdog insists still fell far from any desire to deliver uncontested polls by the authorities.

“The ERC therefore implores upon your honourable office to consider comprehensive alignment and amendment of the Electoral Act before the 2018 elections,” reads part of the letter.

The ERC brought to Bonyongwe’s attention that the recently tabled Bill did not guarantee the holding of free, fair and credible elections in a country whose past elections have vehemently been disputed by the opposition.

“The Bill currently under consideration falls far short of requirements towards alignment and guarantees towards free, fair and credible electoral processes,” said ERC.

Some of the demands that the Bill has allegedly ignored include those by ordinary citizens during parliament's outreach process.

Among these were demands for the current government to allow Zimbabweans based abroad to cast their ballots in next year's elections from their foreign bases.

ERC said Bonyongwe should keep the promises by his predecessor and then Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa to roll out comprehensive electoral reforms during his tenure.

“Sir, the ERC would like to bring to your attention the recently tabled electoral amendment bill HB 06, 2017. Prior, in 2013, then Minister and Vice President, Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa promised the Parliament of Zimbabwe delivery of a comprehensive electoral amendment bill,” said the group.

The ERC has led the current push for a level playing field for next year’s elections which will see incumbent President Robert Mugabe run for yet another term at the age of 94.

Top Zanu PF politicians, among them Higher and Tertiary Education Minister Jonathan Moyo and Cyber Security Minister Patrick Chinamasa (then Finance Minister) have publicly dismissed prospects of the ruling party giving in to opposition demands for poll reforms.



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