Zanu PF MP in surprise call for election reforms

By Moses Chibaya

Zanu PF MP and former Justice Deputy Minister, Fortune Chasi, has publicly admitted there was need for electoral reforms in the country as he inadvertently joined party foes within the opposition who are clamouring for a level playing field.

Deputy Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Fortune Chasi
Former Deputy Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Fortune Chasi

The Mazowe South legislator said during a live discussion on a local radio station that the reforms must be “hastened” ahead of the make-or-break 2018 general elections. 

“There is a lot of interest in ensuring that electoral laws are brought into line with the constitution,” Chasi said adding, “The pace needs to be hastened given that the elections will be happening next year.”

The Wednesday discussion was sponsored by poll watchdog Election Resource Centre (ERC) following its petition on electoral reforms.

The need to introduce reforms within the country’s controversial electoral processes has been a hot potato in a country which has held disputed successive polls.

President Robert Mugabe and his government have adamantly resisted demands by opponents to level the playing field with known Zanu PF strategist and cabinet minister Jonathan Moyo at one time saying Zanu PF “will not reform itself out of power”.

Local civic groups, have, likewise, been joined by regional bodies such as SADC, AU to chorus their demands for poll reforms.

But seemingly singing out of tune with his comrades, Chasi said there was need for a credible election next year.

“The elections need to have a proper legal framework to ensure that the very relevant complaints that are being made are addressed and we have a credible election that is acknowledge by everyone,” Chasi said. 

He added: “Electoral laws are very important. They are the foundation of democracy.  It’s something that we need to take seriously and we must work on it.  We have a duty to align all the laws.”

ERC’s executive director, Tawanda Chimhini also expressed concern over the slow paced reforms under the Zanu PF led administration.

“Time is running out, that window of opportunity that we have had is closing…With electoral reforms, it is not about just putting them on paper…we need to allow time for them to be operationalised.

“Doing all these reforms on the eve of the elections is inconsequential,” Chimhini said.

He added: “Processes leading up to the elections must be democratic, to be accessible to everybody and for everyone to freely participate in those processes way in advance of the election date.”

There have also been calls for the delay of the elections until reforms were implemented and allowed to have impact.

The ERC in 2015 partnered 14 civil society organisations to petition Parliament over government inertia to roll out poll reforms.

The petition raises eight issues which are; Zec’s independence, political environment, voter registration and the voter’s roll, voter education, the right to vote, the electoral court, electoral observers and delimitation. Radio VOP