Zimbabwe's cabinet began deliberations Tuesday on key electoral reforms as the country moves towards elections the Constitutional Court directed should be held before the end of July. Ministers are by law not allowed to discuss matters raised in cabinet under the Official Secrets Act.
But VOA managed to speak with ministers from the three political parties on condition that they were not named. Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, the cabinet heard, is struggling to meet set deadlines to align the country’s electoral laws with the new constitution if elections are to be held by July. Mr. Chinamasa was unreachable on his mobile phone.
The laws that need to be aligned with the new constitution include the Electoral Act, the Public Order and Security Act, Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, Broadcasting Services Act, the Police Act and the Defence Act.
Cabinet on Wednesday focused on the electoral laws and the on-going mobile voter registration exercise.
On electoral reforms, cabinet agreed to scrap Section 57 of the Electoral Act which compels voters to show their ballot to the presiding officers. The two formations of the Movement for Democratic Change had been arguing it was meant to intimidate its supporters. Zanu-PF had previously refused to scrap the clause.
Cabinet also agreed that the mobile voter registration exercise would end July 9 and not before. Ministers complained the voter registration exercise is fraught with problems.
Zanu-PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo told VOA his party will discuss some of the issues raised in cabinet Tuesday. “The Politburo will meet tomorrow (Wednesday) to finalize the rules and regulations for primary elections and also to finalize on the manifesto. People will have a look at it and also furnish us with their input on it,” Gumbo said.
He added that “we will also get a report from (Minister) Chinamasa on the progress made so far in aligning the electoral laws with the new constitution and in that context we may also discuss the extraordinary Sadc Summit that was postponed.”
Spokesman Douglas Mwonzora of the MDC formation led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai says his party is also following cabinet deliberations with keen interest. “For the MDC, it is not about the date for the elections, but the conditions under which those elections are held,”
Mwonzora said, “Our thrust is that elections must be held in Zimbabwe, but these elections must be free and fair. We are going to SADC to push the agenda of electoral reforms, which are derived from constitutional provisions.