Out of touch MPs in trou­ble

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - NEWS - Brian Chitemba

PROSPEC­TIVE Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment seek­ing elec­tion in con­stituen­cies in which they do not re­side will now have to get ap­proval from the Zim­babwe Elec­toral Com­mis­sion, ac­cord­ing to new elec­toral amend­ments.

Vot­ers who want to cast their bal­lots in con­stituen­cies in which they do not re­side shall also have to lodge a claim form with ZEC.

The changes, out­lined in Statu­tory In­stru­ment 117 of 2017, also give those who want to reg­is­ter as vot­ers the power to fill in claim forms with­out the manda­tory as­sis­tance of the voter reg­is­tra­tion of­fice.

These amend­ments to the Elec­toral Act have come into ef­fect through the Pres­i­den­tial Pow­ers (Tem­po­rary Mea­sures) Act (Chap­ter 10:20) pub­lished in a re­cent Gov­ern­ment Gazette.

Sec­tion 25 (a) (ii) of the Elec­toral Act reads: “Where an ap­pli­cant seeks trans­fer of reg­is­tra­tion be­cause he or she in­tends to be a can­di­date for elec­tion as a Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment in a con­stituency in which he or she is not a res­i­dent, the ap­pli­cant shall send the ap­pro­pri­ate pre­scribed form to the Com­mis­sion for its ap­proval.”

This amend­ment is likely to af­fect sev­eral MPs who do not res­i­dent in their con­stituen­cies. The cur­rent Par­lia­ment has sev­eral MPs who re­side in af­flu­ent sub­urbs but are rep­re­sen­ta­tives of high den­sity ar­eas and ru­ral con­stituen­cies.

Ac­cord­ing to the amend­ment of Sec­tion 24 of the Elec­toral Act, cit­i­zens will fill in claim forms and sub­mit to the voter reg­is­tra­tion of­fi­cer.

In part,SI 117 of 2017, reads: “Any per­son who wishes to be reg­is­tered as a voter on the vot­ers roll of any con­stituency shall com­plete the ap­pro­pri­ate pre­scribed claim form and sub­mit it to a voter reg­is­tra­tion of­fi­cer at the ap­pro­pri­ate reg­is­tra­tion of­fice.

“Pro­vided that a claimant — (i) may re­quest the as­sis­tance of a voter reg­is­tra­tion of­fi­cer at the ap­pro­pri­ate reg­is­tra­tion of­fice to com­plete the ap­pro­pri­ate pre­scribed claim form, and the of­fi­cer shall com­ply with that re­quest.”

Pre­vi­ously, the voter reg­is­tra­tion of­fi­cer would fill the claim forms on be­half of any­one who wanted to reg­is­ter to vote. The new amend­ment in­creases the par­tic­i­pa­tion of vot­ers in the elec­toral process and min­imises chances of er­rors since prospec­tive vot­ers will per­son­ally fill in their re­spec­tive de­tails.

Prospec­tive vot­ers who want to reg­is­ter or change con­stituency shall sub­mit the claim form and a voter’s reg­is­tra­tion cer­tifi­cate to a voter reg­is­tra­tion of­fi­cer.

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