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in Zimbabwe criticizes proposed electoral law
October 11, 2004
Critics of a
proposed new electoral law now being debated by Zimbabwe's parliament
say the measure provides no evidence that promised electoral reforms
are on the way.
The draft law
which was presented to parliament last week by justice minister
Patrick Chinamasa, sets up the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, the
authority which will run elections next March. The draft law describes
this new authority as an independent authority.
The draft law
says that the chairman of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission will
be appointed by President Robert Mugabe.
will be chosen by Mr. Mugabe from a list of seven names nominated
by a parliamentary committee dominated by the president's ruling
There is no
provision in the draft law for any independent adjudication of those
selected to run elections.
chairman of the Zimbabwe Election Support Network says that the
ZANU-PF government drew up this draft legislation without any consultation.
He said there
are no constitutional guarantees for the law, and he said the Zimbabwe
Election Commission and its five executives will be subject to what
he describes as the "whims and diktat" of justice minister Chinamasa.
says Zimbabweans need a new electoral environment and a truly independent
electoral authority empowered through the constitution. He said
this had not happened.
In August, Mr.
Mugabe signed a regional protocol on elections which demands that
all member states of the Southern African Development Community,
known as SADC, establish impartial, all-inclusive, competent and
accountable national electoral bodies.
in parliament, Mr. Chinamasa said the SADC electoral protocol was
not binding on Zimbabwe nor did it require inclusivity.
A host of controversial
electoral laws were introduced before the presidential election
in March 2002.
With new elections
only five months away, parliamentarians say there are no indications
of pending legislation to repeal any of those laws which were widely
criticized by most observers of the last national poll.
for Democratic Change parliament members say the new draft law to
create the Zimbabwe Election Commission is no more than a smokescreen.
It will be further
debated in parliament on Tuesday.
Six weeks ago
the MDC suspended participation in all elections until the ZANU-PF
government enabled laws to bring all elections in line with the
SADC electoral protocol for free and fair elections.
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