Zimbabwe’s think-tank Veritas has cried foul against some amendments of an Election Amendment Bill tabled by President Mnangagwas government, which is supposed to align elections with the amended constitution. It states that some provisions violate the constitution.
The Bill proposes the removal of driver’s license as proof of identity in an election and also seeks to disqualify a convicted person from contesting in an election.
Veritas says further consultation with political parties and civil society would have helped remove defects. The Bill did not address concerns such as strengthening the Electoral Commission’s independence and ensuring “the registration of all citizens eligible to vote, including prisoners and members of the diaspora.” Nor does it introduce transparent procedures for preparing and distributing papers and providing fair and equal media coverage of all political parties. The democratic right of eligible voters to participate in free and fair elections was also missing as was the assurance of registration of the diaspora and prisoners.
Legal experts also object to some provisions of the Criminal Law ( Codification and Reform) Amendment Bill 2022 as draconian. They object to clauses which criminalise conduct that undermines the country’s sovereignty, dignity, independence and national interests. They see this as an attempt to suppress dissent before the 2023 election.
One expert saw these provisions as part of “a package” to gag the opposition and critics. Another specialist said one could not legislate how a citizen is viewed by his country. The government wanted to retain power “at all cost” and had not separated the functions of government and a political party.
It will be interesting to see if these provisions are struck down in Parliament or by a legal challenge.