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  • Hwedza residents discuss legislative reforms
    Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition
    August 20, 2010

    On Wednesday 18 August, the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition convened a meeting under the Transitional Dialogue Series (TDS) in Hwedza focusing on Electoral and broader legislative reforms as tabled during the opening of the 3rd session of the 7th Parliament. The meeting was attended by political parties and the local business community. The purpose of the meeting was to:

    • Build consensus among state actors, civil society, legislators and representatives of other interest groups on legislative and electoral reforms.
    • Review and interrogate the Presidential speech and parliamentary role in line with the legislative and electoral reform agenda.
    • Provide a platform for expert input and sharing of views of key legislative and electoral reforms as a means of stimulating informed debate.

    The panel comprised of Masvingo Area Prosecutor, Mr. Derrick Charamba and The Coalition's Senior Programs Officer, Mr. Nixon Nyikadzino. Mr. Charamba opened his discussion with an emphasis on the role of political will over existing law as a prerequisite for a society that respects the rule of law. He pointed out that during the June 27 2008 elections there was law but politicians decided to disregard it due to lack of political will and illegitimate and unconstitutional laws like the Public Order and Security Act (POSA), Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) among other repressive laws. The discussion on electoral reform centered on eight key proposed amendments as listed below:

    a) Voter polling station specific voter registration
    b) The role of the police in electoral processes
    c) Releasing of Presidential results
    d) Nomination process
    e) Accreditation of observers
    f) Special body for complaints of political violence
    g) Postal voting
    h) Assisted voters
    i) Transparency in the number of ballot papers printed and distributed

    Legislative reforms

    a) AIPPA
    b) POSA
    c) Broadcasting Services Act (BSA)
    d) The proposed Attorney General's Act

    Summary of issues raised during the plenary session

    • The polling station specific voter registration and voting will increase the vulnerability of political activists and general voters considering Zimbabwe's history of violence.
    • There is need for increased access to the voters' roll by the public and civic society.
    • Assisted voters must be allowed to choose individuals that they trust and have confidence in as means of protecting the secrecy and privacy of their vote. This will also protect them from violence and intimidation.
    • Presidential election results must be available at least 48 hours after the election. All results must be displayed on V23 forms outside each polling station.
    • There is need for an independent Media Commission that promotes the plurality of media and enhances voices of various sectors of the society. AIPPA, POSA, Interception of Communications Act (ICA), BSA and other repressive laws should be overhauled rather than having piece meal amendments.
    • The current proposed amendments to POSA will still give the police unfettered powers to sanction meetings making Zimbabwe a police state.

    Participants recommended the following:

    • Members of the public must be allowed to vote where they feel comfortable. Members of the Civic society are opposed to polling station specific voting.
    • International observers must be deployed at least 4 months before and 4 months after the election. Observers must be chosen by the electoral commission.
    • The results for general elections must be announced concurrently rather than have Presidential elections being delayed. It is thus recommended that all results should be announced not more than 48 hours after an election.
    • The Zimbabwe Republic Police must not be allowed in polling stations. They should be given a distance of 300 meters from the polling station.
    • All electioneering should be stopped 24hours before polling.
    • Parties to the GPA must set time lines for electoral and legislative reform well before elections in order to improve the political landscape for elections.
    • The media and electoral commissions must report to parliament and must be appointed and supervised by a portfolio committee responsible for such issues to enhance its independence and autonomy.
    • The new amendments to the electoral law must allow for Zimbabweans in the Diaspora to vote.
    • A new independent commission must be appointed that must immediately work towards auditing the voters roll and ensuring Diaspora the respect of the diaspora vote.

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