ZEC should have power to stop polls – Zesn

image
Description

BY BLESSED MHLANGA

A proposed electoral amendment seeks to give the electoral management board, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, (Zec) powers to stop elections where conditions are likely to affect a fair and legitimate outcome.

Electoral watchdog, Zimbabwe Elections Support Network (Zesn) made the proposal in a comprehensive Electoral Amendment Bill, draft proposal which they handed over to the parliamentary portfolio committee on Justice yesterday.

“If it is not reasonably possible to conduct a free and fair election at a voting station on the proclaimed voting day, the Commission may at any time before the voting at a polling station has commenced, postponed voting at that polling station,” reads part of the proposed Bill.

There have been calls in the past for Zec to call off elections especially where violence becomes the order of the day and voters are displaced making it impossible to vote.

Zec has insisted that the law does not give them powers to act in such a manner, with the chairperson once saying once polls are proclaimed only an earthquake can stop the polls.

Zesn also wants the office of the President removed from vetting observers of elections, saying this should be left directly under the control of Zec.

“Amend section 40H of the Electoral Act to reconstitute the Commission’s Observer Accreditation Committee which recommends persons to be accredit as observes to place it more firmly under the control of the Commission and less under the influence of the executive,” reads part of the proposal.

On diaspora voting the Zesn draft Bill, seeks to have a law which allows all Zimbabweans registered to vote, to be given a chance to vote through postal voting.

“Proposing to extend postal voting to all registered voters who may be outside the country at the time of the elections and to provide for special voting for registered voters who are unable to attend at poling station on polling day by reason of amongst others employment in essential services or security services,” reads part of the Bill.

After receiving the Bill, committee member Innocent Gonese said it was therefore very important for parliament to ensure that the push it so that Zimbabwe brings to an end contested elections.

“Lets ensure that the Bill is brought to parliament so we avoid being last minute people, I can tell you from experience that the last amendment debate it was debated in 2018, the same year we were holding elections. We need to do this so that we can bring to an end the era of contested elections in our country,” Gonese said.