‘Electoral Amendment Bill targets disqualification of CCC candidates’
The opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) views the impending Electoral Amendment Bill as unconstitutional, inadequate, anti-reform and meant to disqualify its candidates ahead of the elections this year.
In a statement, CCC spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere said the party demanded the voters’ roll, respect for voting rights and an end to political violence as prerequisites in the bill ahead of 2023 harmonised general elections.
Mahere said the proposed amendment requiring aspiring candidates to make solemn declarations that they have no conviction of at least 12 months prior to the election was meant to disqualify their leaders who would have been “facing targeted prosecutions and are victims of clear weaponization of the law”.
“This proposed amendment requires aspiring candidates to make solemn declarations that they have no conviction of at least 12 months prior to the election.
“This amendment is calculated to ensure our members who are facing targeted prosecutions and are victims of clear weaponization of the law to silence the opposition do not stand as candidates.
“This implied disqualification clause for Parliamentary candidates violates and is ultra vires the Constitution. The Constitution sets out the only competent grounds for disqualification of Members of Parliament in sections 121, 125 and 129. Crucially, there is no mention of disqualification due to prior conviction before tenure of office,” she said.
Mahere further alleged that the draft amendments had been forwarded to Zanu-PF to make sure the ruling party benefits from it.
“The draft amendments have been put forward by Zanu-PF to suit their ends with no public consultation whatsoever. The Electoral Reform Bill is designed to create the impression that electoral reforms are being implemented when in fact, the proposed amendments take away more than they give and seek to exclude effective political participation in the forthcoming elections by the CCC.
“Despite the constitutional obligation under s68 to consult the public when administrative action of this nature is undertaken, there is no record of public or stakeholder consultations in the lead up to the draft amendments.
“No meetings of political parties nor Civic Society Organizations were convened by either by ZEC or the Ministry of Justice to consider recommendations from stakeholders. Written submissions were not solicited either.
“An attempt has been made to belatedly stitch together electronic public hearings which are set to commence today. We take issue with this methodology as it excludes the majority of the population which do not have access to the internet and may not be able to participate in the radio hearings due to technical challenges or load shedding.
“The electronic hearings are also unconstitutional as they fail to facilitate comprehensive involvement and submissions from interested parties in legislative matters as required sections 68 and 141 of the Constitution,” read the statement.
The country is set to hold its harmonised general elections in five months time now.