The Electoral Amendment Bill sailed through Parliament yesterday and now awaits Presidential assent to become law. Senate passed the Bill last night without amendments after the National Assembly allowed the Bill to sail through last week following tension-filled proceedings. The Bill seeks to give legal effect to the Statutory Instrument on the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) that was undertaken by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).
The legal instrument that was used had a lifespan of six months, hence the need to take it to Parliament for debate. The Bill also seeks to ensure free and fair elections.
Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi, who was steering the Bill, said the country’s electoral system was credible as it afforded all players the right to seek any clarification.
He was responding to Senator Gideon Shoko (MDC-T) who had asked whether political parties would be afforded the opportunity to see the printing of ballot papers.
Disabled Representative Senator, Nyamayabo Mashavakure sought to know if ZEC would set up a desk for the handicapped.
Minister Ziyambi said acquisition of voting material would be done in terms of procurement laws, but political parties and stakeholders would have a right to ask any information from ZEC.
“In terms of the Constitution, political parties have a right to ask those questions and ZEC is obliged to give responses to requested questions. Our elections are very credible.
“During voting, polling agents and observers will be given information on how many ballot papers have been distributed to a particular station, their serial numbers and after voting there would be reconciliation on how many ballot papers have been used, number of spoilt papers and those that remain unused.”
On the establishment of disability desk, Minister Ziyambi said it was a worthwhile proposal that ZEC should consider.
Last week, Zanu-PF MPs rejected proposed amendments by MDC-T lawmakers saying they did not add value to the electoral system
One of the proposed amendments by MDC-T chief whip Mr Innocent Gonese was to impose an obligation on ZEC to subject the procurement of ballot papers to an open tender where all political players were involved.