‘Penalise politicians who bus in voters’

HARARE residents yesterday demanded that the Electoral Amendment Bill should include a clause which criminalises bussing in of voters to polling stations and clearly stipulate the duties of traditional leaders so that they do not influence their subjects’ choices of candidates.

BY VENERANDA LANGA

The suggestions were made during public hearings by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice on the Electoral Amendment Bill and the Insolvency Bill.

David Panganai of Mount Pleasant said political parties should not bus their supporters to polling stations.

“In Mount Pleasant where I stay, we experienced the bussing-in of people during the 2013 elections and the amended electoral law must ensure people are not bussed to fraudulently vote in other constituencies,” he said.

Representative of the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference Reverend Father Edward Ndete said the issue of proof of residence should be done away with because it disenfranchised poor people with no fixed properties.

Paul Muchena of the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace said Parliament should not bring piecemeal amendments to the Electoral Act, adding that it should be crafted comprehensively to get rid of all flaws to ensure free and fair elections.
Mugovera Mombo suggested that the Act should also criminalise failure to vote.

“The clause which says a winner for the presidential elections should garner 50% plus one votes must be removed from the electoral law, and the winner must only have the highest number of votes,” Mombo said.

Various people suggested that there should be free access to public media for all contesting parties. They said candidates involved in electoral violence should be arrested, with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission given powers to cause arrest of such persons.

Other participants said the Act should stipulate a cut-off age for candidates to contest elections, saying they no longer wanted people as old as 90 years contesting.

Sakhile Sifelani Ngoma, the executive director of Women in Politics Support Unit, said parties that do not submit a list of candidates with a 50/50 gender balance should be penalised.

Elections Resource Centre executive director Tawanda Chimhini said Parliament should ensure people’s views were incorporated in the Electoral Amendment Bill.