Legal think-tank Veritas says some of the proposed amendments to the Electoral Act violated the Constitution.
In its latest Election Watch report which scrutinised the Electoral Amendment Bill, Veritas said while it is claimed that the purpose of the Bill is to align it with the Constitution, it fails to serve that purpose.
The gazetted Bill seeks to amend the Electoral Act (Chapter 2:13), and proposes the removal of the driver’s licence as proof of identity for electoral purposes; and to disqualify previously convicted persons from contesting in elections.
It also provides a timeframe within which a candidate may withdraw from contesting in National Assembly or local authority elections.
“It fails in its purpose of aligning the Electoral Act with the amended Constitution, even assuming that the constitutional amendments are valid, and some of its provisions actually violate the Constitution. Perhaps more consultations with political parties and civil society when the government was drawing up the Bill would have helped remove some of its defects,” Veritas said.
“More consultations might have also resulted in a Bill that addresses some real issues of concern, such as strengthening the independence of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec), and ensuring the registration of all citizens eligible to vote, including prisoners and members of the diaspora.”
It said the Bill failed to introduce transparent procedures for the preparation and distribution of ballot papers, and ensuring that the public news media give fair and equal coverage to all political parties contesting in elections.
“In the wake of the recent visit by a delegation to assess if Zimbabwe is eligible for readmission to the Commonwealth; the first of the values listed in the Charter of the Commonwealth is democracy. The inalienable right of individuals to participate in democratic processes, in particular, through free and fair elections is missing. The Bill does little or nothing to uphold that value,” Veritas said.