Electoral Act not aligned with Constitution: Veritas

by VENERANDA LANGA

In an analysis of the amendments to the law which will guide elections, Veritas said citizens, who will be disenfranchised included people living in the Diaspora, hospital patients and prisoners.

“Citizens living outside Zimbabwe cannot be registered as voters and so will not be able to vote, and this is because section 23 of the Electoral Act insists that persons must be resident in a constituency, before they can be registered on a voters roll in that constituency,” Veritas said.

“Voters, who cannot go to a polling station to vote on election day will not be able to cast their votes unless they are permitted to vote by post — and the only people who will be allowed a postal vote are election officials, members of the security services on electoral duty, and Zimbabwean diplomats overseas.”

Provisions in sections 22A(3), sections 56(1) and 72 of the Electoral Act have the effect of disenfranchising voters like doctors and nurses, hospital patients, fire and ambulance officers, long distance drivers, and even prisoners may not be able to cast their votes.

“Although the Lancaster House constitution denied the vote to prisoners serving sentences of more than six months, the present Constitution contains no such exclusion, so prisoners have the same right as all other citizens to vote in elections. The Electoral Act makes no provision for them to exercise their rights, and since no arrangements were made for them to be registered on the new roll, most prisoners will be excluded by that fact alone,” Veritas said.

On the independence and transparency of Zec, they said their independence will continue to be limited because of provisions in the Act like section 9(5) which do not give Zec the power to dismiss its chief elections officer without the approval of the Justice minister.

Several other sections in the Act give the Justice minister too many powers, including that Zec cannot accredit observers alone, but that it is largely put in the hands of an observer accreditation committee where government has excessive representation.

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