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Involve Citizens In Recall Of MPs, Councillors – CSOs

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By Anna Chibamu


CIVIL society organisations (CSOs) have demanded the immediate amendment of the Electoral Act to incorporate provisions that would give ordinary citizens powers, as voters, to decide on the recalling of public officials from office.

In a statement Friday, the Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) said CSOs under the banner; ‘Zimbabwe Devolution Campaign’ had met and resolved to fight for the amendment and realignment of the Electoral Act 2:13 with Chapter 14 of the Constitution.

The amendments, according to the CSOs, will allow ordinary citizens to participate in the recalling of elected public officials as they are the ones who voted them into office.

“We call upon the Parliament and the President of Zimbabwe (Emmerson Mnangagwa) to consider the inclusion of new provisions in the Electoral Act 2:13 that will operationalise Section 129 (k) of the Constitution and provide for procedures for recall of non-performing councillors, Members of Parliament and Senators,” they said.

“Any form of recall of elected leadership without citizen participation kills local democracy and has no place in a democratic society. Citizens must have a voice and endorsement on the removal of elected officials. Section 71 of the Devolution and Decentralization Policy recognises the need for the empowerment of communities to have the capacity to demand quality services from elected councillors, including legal recall powers.”

The CSOs said the continued absence of ordinary citizens’ voices in the removal of elected officials rendered the masses powerless and had serious implications on accountability. Once elected into office, elected officials must be accountable to citizens, not to political parties.

The call comes after dozens of MPs and councillors from the MDC Alliance were recalled last year by the MDC-T-led by Douglas Mwonzora with claims they were no longer party members. Mwonzora accused the officials of openly showing allegiance to rival MDC Alliance president, Nelson Chamisa.

However, according to the CSOs, the recalls had decimated elected leadership and seriously crippled service delivery.

“The abuse of powers and provisions of Section 129 (k) of the Constitution that decimated elected leadership and crippled representative democracy in urban local authorities is a great lesson that politicians cannot be entrusted with powers that are unchecked by the citizens.

“CHRA recommends that at least 75% of citizens in a ward or constituency must endorse or validate the recall or removal of elected leadership. The bestowal of powers to recall elected officials on citizens strengthens accountability throughout the whole electoral cycle on elected leadership and is a catalyst towards improved service delivery.

“We assert that our plea and request is in line with the Constitution of Zimbabwe and the Devolution and Decentralization Policy (2020). The amendment and alignment of the Electoral Act 2:13 to allow citizen participation in the recall of elected officials is key in the implementation of devolution provided in Chapter 14 of the Constitution,” added CSOs.