October 26, 2011

Parliament completes public hearings on electoral reform bill

Parliament completed a cycle of public hearings on the Electoral Amendment Bill that was marked by the disruption of numerous meetings in provincial centers including Marondera, Mutare, Masvingo and Kadoma. Following the disruptions the Committee on Justice, Legal, Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs held its final hearing at the Parliament building in Harare without incident. Legislator Innocent Gonese of the Movement for Democratic Change formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said participants showed tolerance of opposing points of view.

Most of those who testified in Parliament agreed that the new electoral law had to bar Zimbabweans in the diaspora from casting ballots, saying those who want to vote must return home. There was agreement that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission had to have sole powers to run elections and should the funds it needs to do that. ZANU-PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo said his party is opposed to the diaspora vote because the process may not be waterproof enough to prevent election fraud. “How do we know the diaspora people have not voted multiple times? Gumbo demanded. “They should come and vote here, no one will be arrested.”

Election Resource Center Director Tawanda Chimhini said language in the amendment bill requiring voters to cast ballots only where they are registered – and not at any polling station in a ward as currently – would leave rural voters vulnerable to intimidation. The measure was introduced to prevent the casting of multiple ballots. (Voa News)

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