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A critical review and analysis of Zimbabwe's Electoral Amendment Bill, 2011
Zimbabwe Election Support Network
July 21, 2011

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Executive Summary

The primary object of this paper is to review and critique the Electoral Amendment Bill, 2011 (hereafter, "the Bill") which seeks to amend the Electoral Law (Chapter 2:13) (hereafter, "the Law"). The ultimate aim of these amendments is to create a level playing field for political contestants and to ensure the realisation of free and fair elections in Zimbabwe.

The reforms come against the background of seriously compromised and controversial elections held in 2008. These elections, and previous contests before them, produced contentious results. The political impasse that emerged from the controversy surrounding the 2008 elections had to be cleared by SADC- mediated negotiations, which eventually led to the formation of a government of national unity under the terms of the Global Political Agreement (hereafter "the GPA"). The GPA mandates the relevant parties to carry out and implement electoral reforms. It is therefore, envisaged that any new elections will be held under a new, reformed electoral regulatory framework, of which the reforms reviewed in this paper form a critical part.

The key questions focus on the nature, effect and legal significance of the reforms presented by the Bill. It is important to critically assess the strengths and weaknesses of the amendments and, where necessary, to suggest improvements. The following are the major issues covered by the Bill:

List of Major Amendments

  • Voter Registration and the Voters Roll
  • Polling Station Based Voters Roll
  • Presidential Elections and Results
  • Pre-Emption of Results
  • Vote Recounts
  • Voter Education
  • Election Observation and Accreditation
  • Nomination of Candidates
  • Voting Processes and Procedures
  • Voting By Illiterate or Physically Handicapped Voters
  • Postal and Special Voting
  • Politically Motivated Violence and Intimidation
  • Media Coverage of Elections
  • Electoral Court
  • Delimitation of Constituencies
  • Independence of the Commission

More detail on these issues is covered in this paper. However, the following summary highlights the major reforms, with brief comments on their legal significance.

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