Independent watchdog calls out Mnangagwa government on shifting electoral goal posts

Zimbabwe’s independent legislative and election watchdog, Veritas, is flagging illegal and outrageous, the two statutory instruments that were published less than a day before nomination of candidates for the forthcoming general elections which make significant changes to the Constitution and Electoral Law. The Zimbabwe general election will hold on Wednesday, 23 August 2023.

The first notice from the Law Reviser is correcting the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment No. 2 Act to provide that ten persons must be elected to provincial and metropolitan councils under a system in which the party lists have equal numbers of men and women alternating.  The effect of the change is that political parties intending to contest seats on provincial and metropolitan councils must present party lists on nomination day with equal numbers of men and women candidates.

The second notice is made by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) on the Electoral Act. It is intended to give effect to the new section 277(4) of the Constitution which states:

“An Act of Parliament may provide for the election, by a system of proportional representation … of at least thirty per centum of the total members of the local council elected on ward basis as women.”

The notice sets out the number of reserved seats in each local authority council which ZEC has calculated to represent 30 percent of the total council seats for the purposes of section 277(4).  By implication, political parties are clearly expected to present party lists based on these calculations when they appear at the nomination courts today.

Veritas is quoting section 157(5) of the Constitution which provides that after an election has been called, no change to the Electoral Law or to any other law relating to elections has effect for the purpose of that election. “The President published a proclamation calling the election on the 31st May, so neither of the legal notices can apply to the forthcoming general election – even though they are clearly intended” the opinion from Veritas reads in part.


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