Zimbabwe inches closer to elections, electoral law amended

 Zimbabwe President Mnangagwa

Zimbabwe President Mnangagwa

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa has signed the Electoral Amendment Bill into law.


The enactment was published in an extraordinary government gazette on Monday night, paving the way for the forthcoming general elections to be held under a new law.


Mnangagwa is now expected to proclaim election dates as soon as the final voters’ roll — which is currently being spruced up — is ready.


The new law gives effect to the Statutory Instrument on the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) that was undertaken by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) through the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act, which had a lifespan of six months.


The new law amends some sections of the Electoral Act of 2004 to complete the alignment of certain provisions of that Act with the new Constitution and enhance ZEC’s independence.


It also gives ZEC more control over the accreditation of election observers, authority to allow accredited observers to monitor all electoral processes and to provide more clearly for polling station voters rolls.


Apart from the government, opposition parties represented in Parliament also submitted proposals on amendments, some of which were taken on board.


The new Act also makes voters’ rolls more accessible; removes ZEC’s monopoly on the provision of voter education, and obliges ZEC to enact codes of conduct to be observed by traditional leaders, members of the security services and civil servants, among other things.


It also establishes an Electoral Court as a division of the High Court, with election petitions expected to be heard within six months following an election, while appeals should be dealt with within three months.


In a separate development, ZEC last week activated the previously suspended provisions of the 2012 Electoral Amendment Act legalising polling station based voting rather than ward based voting, according to Veritas Zimbabwe.


Veritas is an organisation that provides information on the work of the Parliament of Zimbabwe and the laws of the country.


The provisions had not been activated because the Act specified that ZEC first had to be satisfied that voters’ rolls for all polling station areas had been prepared.


According to the law, polling day remains a public holiday.

“It follows that it is not legally necessary for the President to gazette a special statutory instrument to declare polling day a public holiday,” said Veritas. -Xinhua


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