By Darlington Gatsi
RESIDENTS from across the country have criticised the proposed Electoral Amendment Bill 2022 which seeks, among other reforms, to create seats to be contested by women and youths.
The Bill was recently approved by cabinet.
Residents Associations Coalition for Electoral Reforms (RACER), a coalition body of 42 residents associations in the country, decried reservation of seats for women, saying it is a far cry in achieving gender parity as espoused in the constitution.
“We take note of the attempts to have an inclusive electoral system on gender equality on representation through the thirty percent (30%) women for local councils which seeks to amend the Electoral Act.
“We are of the view that the only ideal situation is that both gender must be equally represented on the elected leadership positions in local councils, and the 30% women’s quota based on proportional representation is a piece meal arrangement that has the potential to bring redundant and unaccountable councillors if the current framework proposed is pursued,” said Marvelous Khumalo, RACER spokesperson.
The Electoral Amendment Bill is an attempt by the government to reform the electoral process system in the country, but has received condemnation from opposition parties and political observers.
The Electoral Amendment Bill has been criticised for lacking the input from political players and election watchdogs.
Khumalo said there is no political will among the key players in embracing democracy in preparation for next year’s general elections.
The political landscape has been characterised by violence against opposition members, which has been predicted by political analysts to increase next year.
“The Residents Associations Coalition for Electoral Reforms (RACER), a coalition of 42 Residents Associations both urban and rural, welcomes the attempts to reform electoral laws, processes and practices but lament the lack of appetite, desire and commitment to embrace democratic and constitutional culture among political leaders and key institutions that are involved in the running of elections.
“The emergence of political violence, heightened political intolerance and increase of hate speech witnessed during by-elections and ahead of 2023 harmonised elections is a major concern among Residents Associations. This seriously impacts on women participation in the electoral process both as voters and electoral candidates for public office in the 2023 elections,” he said.