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Electoral Amendment Bill Gazetted - Bill Watch 25/2011
June 29, 2011

The Electoral Amendment Bill [H.B. 3, 2011] was gazetted on Monday 27th June.

Bill Referred to Portfolio Committee

Under normal Parliamentary procedure the Bill now stands automatically referred to the House of Assembly Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal Affairs, Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs. The portfolio committee must consider the Bill and prepare a report for presentation by its chairperson during the Bill’s Second Reading stage in the House. The committee has the power to call for evidence from the public and to hold public hearings for the purpose. As this important Bill is urgent, public hearings are likely to be soon. Interested individuals and organisations should therefore waste no time in preparing their views on the Bill for presentation to the portfolio committee.

When Will the Bill be Presented to Parliament?

In terms of Standing Orders the responsible Minister, the Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs, is permitted to present the Bill to either the Senate or the House of Assembly 14 days after its gazetting. This means that the Bill could receive its First Reading shortly after the House of Assembly resumes on Tuesday 12th July.

Bill to go to Parliamentary Legal Committee after Presentation

After its First Reading the Bill will be referred to the Parliamentary Legal Committee for its report on whether or not the Bill is consistent with the Constitution. Interested organisations and individuals who believe any of the Bill’s provisions infringe the Constitution should prepare their representations now for submission to the Parliamentary Legal Committee.

What is in the Bill?

According to the official explanatory memorandum printed with the Bill the principal changes provided for are as follows:

(a) to incorporate the provisions of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Act into the Electoral Act and to repeal the ZEC Act

(b) to base the voting process at polling-station level, with voters obliged to vote at their nearest polling station rather than at any polling station within their constituencies [polling station voters rolls will be prepared]

(c) to ensure that electronic copies of voters rolls are available in analysable form

(d) to restrict postal voting to voters who are outside the country on Government business [this means there is no provision for Zimbabweans in the Diaspora who are unable to return home to vote in their constituencies]

(e) to allow electoral officers and members of the Police Force and Defence Forces who have to be away from their constituencies on duty during an election, to cast their votes in advance of the election at special polling stations established for the purpose [this special polling will be under the control of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission]

(f) to introduce greater transparency in the counting and collation of votes at all levels

(g) to establish new mechanisms to prevent politically-motivated violence and intimidation during elections;

(h) to extend the jurisdiction of the Electoral Court

(i) to ensure that the results of presidential elections are announced speedily [the announcement must be within five days of the end of the poll].

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