Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
The opposition and civic society failed to bring to Parliament any proposed amendments to the electoral law despite endless calls for reforms every time they faced elections, Speaker of the National Assembly, Advocate Jacob Mudenda has said.
He castigated the United States of America for renewing illegal sanctions on Zimbabwe ahead of the July 30 harmonised elections, saying First World nations were quick to criticise African countries for human rights violations despite their ignoble treatment of Africans throughout slavery and colonial rule.
Adv Mundenda said this yesterday during a meeting with members of the International Republican Institute and National Democratic Institute electoral observer mission in the July 30, 2018 who paid him a courtesy call.
The mission, chaired by former US Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Johnnie Carson, is in the country to finalise its observation report.
During the meeting, Mr Carson, who held a senior position in the US State Department in charge of African Affairs, sought to know what Parliament was doing to ensure electoral reforms.
Adv Mudenda said only the Zimbabwe Electoral Support Network (ZESN) had petitioned Parliament with amendments and that after extensive debate and consultations, some of their proposals were accommodated in the recently promulgated Electoral Act.
“Political parties were sleeping. None brought any amendments to the electoral law and (they) started only shouting before elections. That is very unfortunate. Political parties were in the inclusive government from 2009 to 2013 and during that period anyone could have brought amendments to the electoral law but nothing was done. I think people were enjoying their perks,” said Adv Mudenda.
“They missed that opportunity because during the inclusive government there were synergies that could be leveraged.
“Then from 2013 to 2018 nothing substantial came from the opposition to amend the electoral law or the Constitution for that matter. It is my hope that this Ninth Parliament, anybody or any political party will seize the opportunity to come up with any proposed electoral amendments so that the electoral process is gingered up in terms of a strong electoral law.”
He said Section 149 of the Constitution allowed any person to petition Parliament with any proposed law or motion.
“We have received several petitions on other matters but not on the electoral reforms. We shall continue as Parliament to engage civil organisation and political parties to say start now, do not wait for 2023 when there are elections, so that we can start cleaning up those areas that require reform,” he said.
Adv Mudenda castigated MDC Alliance president Mr Nelson Chamisa for double standards for seeking to demonise Zimbabwe Electoral Commission chair Justice Priscilla Chigumba for alleged bias when he was part of the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders that identified her.
“As for the current chair of ZEC, again she was sifted by the Committee of Standing Rules and Orders where all political parties were members of that committee, including the then Hon Chamisa. He was there when we chose Justice Chigumba as the rightful candidate to be chairperson. It was done here and endorsed by the Cabinet,” said Adv Mudenda.
He challenged the US to give space to Zimbabwe saying its human rights record had improved significantly since the coming of a new dispensation led by President Mnangagwa.
“We were surprised but at the time disappointed that after the new dispensation indicated this democratic open space, that Zimbabwe is open for business, Congress saw it fit to renew sanctions against us even before the electoral process had begun. A picture is created for us as a pariah state which it is not in reality,” he said.
Adv Mudenda said the United Nations Human Rights Charter was signed in 1948 when most if not all African countries were still colonised.
“Most countries if not all countries in Africa were still colonies then whose citizens had their human rights trampled on by the colonisers. That had to be taken into account,” he said.