THE Parliamentary committee on Justice has recommended the removal of Registrar General Tobaiwa Mudede from any involvement with elections before the passage of the Electoral Amendment Bill which is currently before the legislative assembly.
“A matter of concern is that responsibility for the voters roll continues to be shared between the Zimbabwe Election Commission (ZEC) and the Registrar General’s Office, which dilutes accountability,” said the committee.
“ZEC should be given sole and exclusive responsibility for registration of voters and the maintenance of the voters roll.The compilation of the voters roll must be done by one organ and in this case by ZEC.”
The committee also recommended that all exiled Zimbabweans should be allowed to participate in elections through postal voting, whether or not they are on government duty.
Chinamasa had insisted, when he presented the Bill to Parliament last week, that enabling Zimbabweans living abroad to vote was a logistical nightmare beyond the country’s means adding sanctions imposed by the West also meant his Zanu PF party would be at a disadvantage.
“With respect to people living in the diaspora, let me say this right from the outset, there are other 101 reasons why we are not ready for diaspora voting and I will just enumerate the few. The capacity to have polling stations in every country where Zimbabweans are is just beyond the capacity of this country,” Chinamasa said.
“The other consideration and it is very important, given where we are geo-politically, where we are, we have sanctions imposed against one of the three political parties in the inclusive government.”
The committee also insisted that presidential election results should be released within 48 hours, instead of the five days proposed by Chinamasa. The provision is aimed at preventing the crisis of 2008 when a month-long delay stoked tensions amid claims officials were massaging the figures in Mugabe’s favour.
Changes to the country’s elections legislative framework are part of a raft of political reforms negotiated as part of the Global Political Agreement (GPA and are expected to culminate in new polls now expected next year.
The committee also said the invitation of election observers should be done by the Zimbabwe Electoral commission (ZEC) instead of the Ministry of Foreign affairs as proposed by Chinamasa.
Meanwhile, Parliament has passed a human rights bill that restricts investigators from probing the 2008 electoral violence or the Gukurahundi massacres of the 1980s.
The Human rights bill was gazetted in June last year, but was stalled after Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) formations insisted that commissioners be empowered to investigate the Gukurahundi atrocities as well as the 2008 election violence.
The MDC formations later climbed down from their demands meaning the commission, which was appointed last year, would now probe issues from the time the Bill becomes law.
The climb down followed advice from United Nations human rights commissioner Navi Pillay during her visit to the country in May when she said, universally, human rights commissions do not carry out their duties retrogressively.
“I welcome the fact that Zimbabwe has established a Human Rights Commission – a type of national institution governed by a rigorous international set of standards — and appointed its members in 2010, and I deeply regret the fact that the bill that would enable it to function properly is currently still stuck in Parliament,” said Pillay.
“The main obstruction to its progress is a dispute over its temporal limitation, i.e. whether or not it should cover historical events prior to 2009. My strong advice to the political leaders and parliamentarians has been that – like most other Human Rights Commissions around the world - it should not become involved in historical investigations.”