Zanu-PF Members of Parliament (MPs) yesterday rejected proposals by the MDC-T to legislate, through the Electoral Amendment Bill, for an open tender for the procurement of ballot papers, saying this would fall foul of the current provisions of the country’s procurement regulations.
Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi — who is the leader of Government business in Parliament — told the august House that the proposals which were being pushed by MDC-T chief whip and Mutare Central legislator Mr Innocent Gonese, could not be accommodated through amendments to the Electoral Act, since the matter is covered by separate legislation.
“I reject that. It is already covered by the Procurement Act. We cannot talk of another law that deviates from an existing law. This provision is problematic to accept. We can not violate our procurement laws to say we want more than 200 political parties to see where the ballot papers are printed,” said Minister Ziyambi.
In his submission, Mr Gonese said there was need for an open tender for procurement of ballot papers and other related material to diffuse suspicion that has been around the electoral process.
But Minister Ziyambi said the process was already transparent in that when election materials are distributed, political players were given an opportunity to reconcile them before and after polling.
“Honourable Gonese is fuelling things that are not there. There is reconciliation of ballot papers before and after voting by all players,” said Minister Ziyambi.
He said Government was committed to free, fair and credible elections and that is why it allowed all stakeholders to submit their proposals on the Bill, which initially had a limited scope to give effect to the new Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) system.
Initially, the legal underpinning to the process was covered by a Statutory Instrument, which had a six-month lifespan.
Minister Ziyambi also rejected proposals by the MDC-T to allow the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) to act as election monitors during the elections.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), he said, was mandated to accredit observers, and not monitors. “Besides, ZHRC has a constitutional role, which does not require it to be accredited. Nobody can stand in its way. If they want to monitor human rights, they can continue doing that as they do not need to go to ZEC because that is its constitutional role,” said Minister Ziyambi.
Other proposals that were rejected included the need to specify on the voters’ roll whether one was disabled or illiterate.
According to Minister Ziyambi, it was unconscionable to pass such a law since being illiterate is not a permanent human condition.
He also noted that while one might be able-bodied, he might in time become disabled.
Emotions ran high during the debate prompting acting Speaker of Parliament Cde Reuben Marumahoko to eject Binga North MP Mr Prince Sibanda for disorderly conduct.