Latest News Editor's Choice

News / National

Diaspora vote a logistical nightmare

by Staff reporter
24 Jul 2022 at 09:58hrs | Views
Over the past four years, the Government has instituted high-impact legislative reforms to help strengthen the country's democracy and promote personal freedoms. Ahead of next year's harmonised elections, plans are underway to reform the Electoral Act in order to guarantee a credible, free and fair election. Our Reporter Debra Matabvu (DM) spoke to Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi (ZZ) on these and other issues.


DM: The 2023 general elections are on the horizon; can you outline progress the Government has made in implementing legislative reforms to guarantee free and fair polls?

ZZ: The Ministry of Justice is still working on drafting amendments to the Electoral Act and the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act to introduce what is being referred to as the Patriotic Bill.

At the moment, I cannot tell you what the amendments will entail because we are yet to present them to Cabinet. However, our drafters are working on the Acts.

When they are done, we will take it to the Cabinet Committee on Legislation before taking it to Cabinet.

From the Cabinet, we will then gazette the amendments.

We are having challenges because some of our best drafters left us, so this has slowed down the process.

However, we are working on making sure that we finish them this side of the year.

If we do not complete the Electoral Act this year, it means we will not use it next year for the 2023 elections.

So, by the end of August, we must have completed the drafts so that the President signs them into law before end of the year.

DM: Several election observer missions made some recommendations after the 2018 polls. How far have you gone in implementing some of the recommendations which the Government accepted?

ZZ: We have done a lot. The observers spoke about Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) and the Public Order and Security Act (POSA), and we have repealed those two Acts.

We now have the Maintenance of Peace and Order Act (MOPA). We have amended the Broadcasting Services Act.

We have disbanded the AIPPA law.

Within the broadcasting services, the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services has issued several licences to television and community radio stations.

The choice is now wider.

There is the Electoral Act, which we are working on. Parliament has also passed the Independent Complaints Commission Bill.

In terms of the reform process ever since the coming in of the Second Republic, we have done a lot. In short, we have reformed the public order and security laws as well as the broadcasting environment.

DM: How much progress have you made in aligning the country's statutes to the Constitution?

ZZ: We have only a few Acts remaining.

We have about 20 that are remaining.

Alignment of laws will always be ongoing.

As we pass new laws, we will always encounter areas that we would have skipped.

The courts will always indicate when a certain law has not been aligned.

So it will always be a continuous process.

We believe that what is remaining is not that offensive to justice delivery of the system.

DM: Some sections continue to clamour for the Diaspora vote for next year's elections. What is the Government's position on the issue?

ZZ: I am sure you remember that there was an outcry, especially from our people in the Diaspora, calling on us to stop amending the Constitution, and the Government listened.

The Diaspora vote cannot happen with the way the Constitution is right now.

The country is divided into 210 constituencies and our voting system is polling station-based.

For example, if someone votes in Zvimba constituency at Murombedzi Vocational Training Centre (VTC), this means that person cannot go and cast their vote at Murombedzi Primary School.

Their name will not appear on the voters' roll at Murombedzi Primary School.

So it is not about those in Diaspora only.

This is the system that we have in the Constitution.

So those in the Diaspora cannot vote.

Even if we had assumed that the votes of those in the Diaspora will be sent to their polling station, it would be an administrative nightmare.

The logistical process may cause massive rigging.

Our system provides for that kind of voting for those in Government service.

One may argue that in South Africa it is allowed. Our electoral process is different from that of South Africa. The South African system is based on proportional representation and ours is a hybrid system.

With ours, you vote for a candidate of your choice, while in South Africa you vote for a party.

DM: The Constitution enjoins the Government to enact laws to operationalise devolution. Can you outline progress the Government has made in this regard?

ZZ: We have to accept that this Ninth Parliament was severely affected by Covid-19. We could not pass the number of laws that we wanted to. That is the first issue we have to acknowledge.

Then when we wanted to pass laws that give effect to devolution, we then realised that there were certain Acts that were not speaking to the Constitution. So, we decided to amend the Constitution to streamline everything.

So we have done that and we have submitted the laws.

Source - The Sunday Mail