Harare, May 27, 2016 – ZIMBABWEANS have called for the enactment of a law that empowers them to recall non-performing legislators and councillors.
Election Resource Centre (ERC) director, Tawanda Chimhini said this week his organisation has been inundated with demands for such dispensation.
The ERC works with both policy makers and ordinary Zimbabweans in efforts to ensure a conducive electoral environment for all.
Speaking through the state media this week, Chimhini, a human rights and democracy expert, said during interactions with citizens, some communities said they wanted the scrapping of the current system in which MPs can either be recalled by the parties or wait to be voted out after their five year terms.
Chimhini said voters were more concerned about development, human rights and democracy issues which elected officials were allegedly failing to address.
“In interesting aspects of these conversations, we have actually had some communities now saying probably we need a policy change in terms of the law that actually says if someone does not account as an elected official that person must be recalled,” Chimhini said.
Section 129 (1) (k) of the Constitution only allows political parties to recall their parliamentary representatives they feel have failed to represent their interests.
The same law recognises that the MP has to serve at least two key stakeholders, namely, the political party under whose umbrella he or she is elected and the people who are the electors.
According to Chimhini, citizens as the electors of these leaders, are now calling for a constitutional provision that allows them to do the same.
“We have head citizens who are now saying if a councillor or an MP is not coming back and accounting for the citizens, there must be a provision that says such people must be recalled by citizens from holding those positions,” Chimhini said.
The demands were made during the ongoing campaign the Communities in Action, a campaign aimed at amplifying citizen voices in governance issues.
The ERC director said during elections “the citizen becomes that centre of conversation because everybody wants to mobilise them and to have them support particular view points and so on, but after elections the citizens are relegated to the background where their voices are rarely head.”
The campaign, Chimhini said, seeks to have the citizen voices in between elections where citizens express themselves in terms of identification of priority areas where they engage with their local leaders.
“It’s about creating and amplifying that citizen voice to ensure that it is listened to by leaders and there have been interesting response with a group of 30 trained members at Ward level growing mobilising up to 300 fellow citizens,” Chimhini said.
The ERC chief said leaders have started to respond and all of a sudden started to talk to their own communities.