New Electoral Rules proposed
Zimbabwe’s Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa proposes a series of changes to election law in a sixth draft Electoral Amendment Bill of 2010.
The Bill has been seen by Zanu PF, MDC-T and MDC-M and their comments have been sought. The Bill comes on the back of the original Global Political Agreement signed in September 2008 between President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
With elections slated for June this year, the MDC-T have said that the reforms must be passed first and if not then the elections should be delayed; Mugabe and the Zanu PF do not agree.
The key areas of the reforms are:
- Police will have the sole function of maintaining order and will not interfere with the electoral process at polling stations. They will also be barred from entering polling stations unless called for assistance or to cast their votes
- Magistrates and Prosecutors would deal with cases of political violence as priority cases. Those convicted would lose their right to vote for five years
- The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) would be responsible for the accreditation of local and foreign observers, monitor media coverage and conduct voter education (no foreigners would be permitted to do the latter)
- Local organisations involved in voter education would have their materials vetted by ZEC and would have to declare their sources of funding
- Political parties would be held accountable for the behaviour of their members in the run up to and during elections
- A Presidential run-off would not be held less than 21 days and not more than 63 days after the first round
- Parties would be banned from advertising or campaigning 24 hours before polling day
- Public broadcasters would give free access to political parties and independent candidates with a fair and balanced allocation of time for each to present their case
- Broadcast and print media would be obliged to offer the same terms and conditions to all parties wishing to advertise through them, although they would not be obliged to accept the adverts
- Anyone publishing results prior to the official announcement of a result would be guilty of an offence and be fined or imprisoned for up to six months.