MPs have hands full with poll law

Amendments to the Electoral Act, which will further engender holding of democratic elections, will be ready for the President’s signature by the end of May, with legislators expected to burn the midnight oil debating the regulations.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has pledged to hold free, fair and credible elections this year; and has extended invitations to the international community and various blocs to observe the polls.

Pre-election assessment observer teams from Sadc and the European Union have been to Zimbabwe already.

The Sunday Mail understands that the Senate will on Tuesday debate the Electoral Amendment Bill passed by the National Assembly last week.

The amended Act seeks to ensure that the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission is not included as part of the Special Investigations Committee, but has authority to carry out its own independent investigations into electoral conduct.

The refined law will amend polling station-based voting, which will see the introduction of satellite polling stations around main polling stations to cater for more voters.

Secretary for Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Mrs Virgina Mabhiza said the playing field would be adequately protected ahead of elections by legal instruments.

“The Electoral Act Amendment Bill passed the National Assembly on Thursday,” she said. “On Tuesday it will be read in Senate.  We expect the amended act to be assented by the President by the end of May. It will be ready in time for elections.”

Last week, Zanu-PF National Assembly representatives rejected MDC-T proposals to legislate for open tendering for procurement of ballot papers.

Ruling party lawmakers said such a scenario fell foul of Zimbabwe’s procurement regulations.

Zanu-PF also rejected proposals to allow the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission to act as an election monitor. Other proposals that were rejected included a call to have the voters roll to specify whether or not one was disabled or illiterate.

Political parties represented in Parliament — Zanu-PF, MDC-T and MDC — agreed on a code of conduct to be included in the Electoral Act.

The proposed code of conduct will deal with issues related to political violence.

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