By RadioVOP Correspondent
Harare, October 19, 2016 – ZIMBABWE’S parliament is next week set to conduct consultations to gather citizens’ views on electoral reforms and the alignment of laws to the Constitution.
This follows a recent petition by the Election Resource Centre (ERC) and some civic groups which drew up eight critical elements essential for electoral reform.
They took their demands to the legislative chamber to consider.
The countrywide public hearings will be convened by the august house’s Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.
ERC, a think tank and advocacy institution on democracy and election, along with 14 other Civil Society Organisation (CSOs), on 22 September 2015 submitted a petition to parliament demanding comprehensive electoral reforms.
In a statement, ERC executive director, Tawanda Chimhini said the petition went through critical scrutiny before parliament decided to conduct the hearings.
“It (petition) passed through all the necessary and legal stages in parliament, but for some reason, could not be availed for public input,” Chimhini said.
“This is despite the fact that parliament was conducting public hearings on other pertinent issues.
“Finally, with enough pressure, public hearings on electoral reform petition are here.”
The public hearings will run from October 24 to October 30 this year.
The first meeting will be held in Harare, followed Concession, Mutoko, Mutare, Bulawayo, Tsholotsho and Kariba.
Chimhini said this was the first time a petition submitted around electoral issues had successfully seen parliament engage citizens for their views.
“This is also the first opportunity that public input will be considered in the alignment of laws with the new constitution.
“Past experience has shown that the Executive has exercised sole mandate to realign laws with the Constitution with regard to public input,” Chimhini said.
The ERC boss commended the decision by parliament to take the petition to the public as it cements the role of citizens in electoral reform, two years before the election in 2018.
The petitioners are concerned and worried not only about the pace of electoral legal reform, but also the substantive content of the legislative proposals that have come from the Executive on Electoral Law.
The eight critical priority areas that the organisations want addressed are independence of the electoral body, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and the alignment all laws that impact the political environment.
The groups also want a comprehensive, continuous voter registration resulting in a clean voters’ roll, enhancing Voter Education by creating more space for stakeholders other than ZEC, extending the Right to Vote to all citizens of Zimbabwe, wherever they may be and reconstituting the Electoral Court in compliance with the Constitution.
They also want ZEC to be solely responsible for invitation of Election observers and enhancing the role of ZEC in electoral boundary Delimitation.