Zvamaida Murwira-Senior Reporter
THE Electoral Amendment Bill currently before Parliament will be given priority so that it is passed on time as it has a bearing on the forthcoming harmonised elections.
While Parliament has nine other Bills that are up for consideration, the Electoral Amendment Bill has to be concluded ahead of elections scheduled for between July or August this year.
The Bill needs to be finalised as it will operationalise the latest constitutional amendments for the election of 10 youth members of the National Assembly, one from each province, as well as the continued election of 60 women, six from each province, to the National Assembly under a party-list system.
The Bill will extend the new constitutional provisions for the election of women on a party-list system to provincial councils and local authorities, and will prevent people from being nominated for election if they have been convicted of certain offences.
It also sets a time-limit for the withdrawal of constituency candidates.
The Bill seeks to stop the use of driver’s licences as proof of identity by persons who register as voters and those who obtain ballot papers at polling stations.
Political parties including Zanu PF have since identified persons to fill the youth and women’s quotas.
In an interview, Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi, who is the Leader of the House, acknowledged the need to expeditiously deal with the Bill.
“Indeed we need to have it passed before proclamation of elections. Once we manage to do that, it will be used for the forthcoming elections. We will definitely prioritise the Bill and I do not see any impediment from having it passed on time. We will definitely be on time,” said Minister Ziyambi.
Legislators from the opposition Citizens Coalition for Change have proposed several amendments to the Bill which Parliament will have to consider.
Mutare Central MP Mr Innocent Gonese and Kuwadzana East MP Mr Charlton Hwende proposed some amendments which are now before Parliament for consideration.
Minister Ziyambi said Parliament will give due consideration to the proposed amendments and they will be debated accordingly.
Some of the proposed amendments from Mr Hwende include the requirement to furnish every polling agent with a voters’ roll bearing pictures of all registered voters in order to validate their identities.
He also wants the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to ensure that, for at least two months after the announcement of the result of an election concerned, all voting returns to be kept open for inspection by members of the public at all reasonable times, and to provide copies upon payment of prescribed fees.
Mr Gonese proposed the insertion of a clause to compel ZEC to call for a competitive tender to print ballot papers and all related electoral material including the procurement of indelible ink, the supply of ballot boxes and all relevant material.
He also proposed the expansion of the list of those to get special voting rights by including provision of essential services to cover any hospital or medical service, any transport service, any service relating to the generation, supply or distribution of electricity, any service relating to the supply or distribution of water, any sewerage or sanitary service, any service relating to the production, supply, delivery or distribution of food, fuel or coal among others.
Besides the Electoral Amendment Bill, there are other Bills that Parliament will have to contend with.
They include the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Amendment Bill, Prisons and Correctional Service Bill, Medical Services Amendment Bill, Insurance and Pensions Commission, Insurance Bill, Public Finance Management Amendment Bill, Children’s Amendment Bill, Labour Amendment Bill and Electricity Amendment Bill.