CCC red-flags Electoral Bill, says draft law targeted at party poll candidates

HARARE – Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) has accused the Zanu PF led government of sponsoring the Electoral Amendment Bill with motives to disqualify some of the party’s cutting edge politicians from participating in this year’s elections.

In a statement Monday, CCC spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere also dismissed the controversial draft legislation as an attempt to hoodwink the world into the false believe that the Zanu PF led administration was effecting long demanded electoral reforms when in fact it was pursuing the contrary.

The Electoral Amendment Bill is currently before parliament and has been opened up for public hearings by parliament’s committee on Justice, Legal and parliamentary Affairs.

Section 4 of Cap. 2:13 of the draft law seeks to disqualify a candidate for election into the National Assembly or a council if such candidate is convicted within twelve months of being nominated.

The bill further seeks to provide that if a candidate has a criminal conviction, they will only be allowed to contest if their sentence has been reduced to less than six months, pardoned or their conviction set aside.

Mahere accused the Zanu PF government of harbouring malicious intentions to use the law to block some of the party’s politicians from contesting the elections.

“This amendment is calculated to ensure our members who are facing targeted prosecutions and are victims of clear weaponization of the law to silence the opposition do not stand as candidates.

“This implied disqualification clause for Parliamentary candidates violates and is ultra vires the Constitution. The Constitution sets out the only competent grounds for disqualification of Members of Parliament in sections 121, 125 and 129.

“Crucially, there is no mention of disqualification due to prior conviction before tenure of office,” said Mahere.

Zanu PF spokesperson Christopher Mutsvangwa in an interview dismissed Mahere accusations saying that CCC was displaying paranoia in fear for a “white wash’ defeat in the coming elections.

“CCC is evincing that paranoia born of fear. That fear of being white-washed in the upcoming national harmonized elections.

“Political red herrings, flimsy accusations, fake abductions are now the stock in trade of CCC political cry-babies.”

In recent months, a handful CCC top politicians have been hauled to the courts facing a slew of accusations the opposition claims were trumped up.

Among some of the politicians who face offences are legislators Job Sikhala, Godfrey Sithole, Amos Chibaya, Tendai Biti and Mahere herself.

In her comments Monday, Mahere described the draft law as “unconstitutional, grossly inadequate, and anti-reform” insisting it did not seek to align the country’s electoral law with the national constitution.

She added, “The Electoral Reform Bill is designed to create the impression that electoral reforms are being implemented when in fact, the proposed amendments take away more than they give and seek to exclude effective political participation in the forthcoming elections by the CCC.

“Despite the constitutional obligation under s68 to consult the public when administrative action of this nature is undertaken, there is no record of public or stakeholder consultations in the lead up to the draft amendments.”

Prior to the debate in parliament on the electoral bill, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and he Justice Ministry failed to hold public consultative meetings to document submissions from stakeholders such as civic societies, citizens, and opposition political parties, as required by law before any bill is debated in parliament.

According to Mahere, the draft amendment failed to take into account the recommendations of the 2018 Election Observer Missions and was not in accordance with regional and international electoral treaties, guidelines, and standards.

She went on to say that stakeholders such as civic societies, citizens, and opposition political parties were not consulted before submitting recommendations, and that because the electoral amendment debate was virtual, it further marginalized and segregated citizens who did not have internet access.

“An attempt has been made to belatedly stitch together electronic public hearings which are set to commence today (Monday).

“We take issue with this methodology as it excludes the majority of the population which do not have access to the internet and may not be able to participate in the radio hearings due to technical challenges or load shedding,” Mahere said.

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