MDC-T grandstanding on poll reforms

MDC-T is trying to play to the gallery by insinuating Government is not interested in free, fair and credible elections as espoused by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, because the opposition is aware of ongoing legislative processes dealing with the issue, a Cabinet minister has said.

This week, Parliament reconvenes to debate the Electoral Amendment Bill.

Parliament records show MDC-T has submitted proposed amendments to the Bill, showing that the opposition is aware of what Government is doing to deliver a legitimate poll.

Furthermore, the parties in Parliament — Zanu-PF, MDC-T and MDC —have agreed to a Code of Conduct that could be incorporated into the Act.

In an interview with The Sunday Mail last week, Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi said: “Some weeks back, (MDC-T chief whip Innocent) Gonese even brought their suggested amendments to Parliament and debated them.

“I am surprised that they are going all out to the Press to cry foul. It is clear that they are grandstanding. But we will continue to follow due processes and deliver a free and fair election in line with what President Mnangagwa has constantly said.”

Minister Ziyambi said each of the so-called reforms spoken of by MDC-T had been either been already addressed or were work in progress.

“I actually do not understand what they mean by electoral reforms. It’s high-sounding language that they are using to gain attention,” added the minister.

“I can categorically state that each and every issue that they have raised has been already addressed under the law, or is in the process of being addressed.

“There is also the Code of Conduct for elections which all the parties have signed and agreed to. We have agreed that this Code of Conduct be incorporated into the Electoral Act.

“What we are now working on is to focus on the penalties for political parties do not abide by the Code of Conduct.”

Minister Ziyambi, who Leader of Government business in Parliament said he had reconvened the legislature to debate electoral issues even though it was supposed to be in recess this month.

The Justice Minister said he was prepared to invoke Parliament’s Standing Rules and Orders to extend debate into the night if need be.

“We want these amendments to be done so as to allow the President to proclaim the dates for the elections.”

Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba said Parliament was the right platform for parties to debate reforms.

“… this is work in progress and political parties should lobby Parliament for the expeditious promulgation of these reforms.

“The responsibility to make laws lies squarely with Parliament and some of the political parties agitating the reforms are represented therein and therefore they are best disposed to bring the reforms to fruition.”

MDC-T’s Mr Gonese confirmed his party was part of the reform process.

The opposition has also been agitating for a Diaspora vote, but the judiciary is seized with that matter and last month the Constitutional Court reserved judgment on it.

Another “reform” demanded by MCC-T is media monitoring of coverage of political parties and candidates, which according to law applies three months before the polls.

Political analyst Mr Alban Gambe said of this: “We have seen that ZBC has been giving coverage to opposition political parties, in particular Nelson Chamisa and the MDCs, so it is clear that some of the so-called reforms that are being called for no longer have merit.

“Also, allegations by the opposition that chiefs are partisan do not hold merit because traditional leaders have a right to pursue political persuasions of their choice.”

Opposition parties have demanded “de-militarisation of Zec”, but the electoral body has repeatedly stated that it does not employ any serving members of the military.

President Mnangagwa has reached out to all political parties and wants to meet them to discuss election-related issues in another show of his commitment to free, fair and credible polls.

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