Officials on the Zimbabwe Parliament's committee on justice, legal and constitutional affairs say they will hold national public hearings on the Electoral Amendment Bill despite disruptions of similar meetings on the Human Rights Commission Bill last month.
Committee Chairman Douglas Mwonzora of the Movement for Democratic Change formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said it is very important for members of the public to participate in the hearings on the new electoral dispensation.
Mwonzora said public meetings will begin August 24 in major urban centers and smaller towns such as Beitbridge, Rusape, Chiredzi, Gokwe, Plumtree and Mutoko.
Security is an issue, and Mwonzora said that Clerk of Parliament Austin Zvoma will be communicating with Police Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri to ask that the Zimbabwe Republic Police protect legislators and citizens taking part.
Last month suspected ZANU-PF youth activists burst into Parliament and beat legislators and journalists during a hearing on the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission Bill.
No arrests were made at the time, however, as police stood by during the incident.
Mwonzora warned that those who choose to sing or otherwise to disrupt meetings such as happened during parliamentary hearings on the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission Bill run the risk that their views will not be taken into account.
Irene Petras, executive director of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, said the question of violence during parliamentary meetings must be urgently addressed.
Petras said authorities must take action against the police if they continue to stand by without moving to arrest the perpetrators of such disturbances.
The Electoral Amendment Bill proposes a number of changes to the existing electoral law with a view to promoting free and fair elections.
Elsewhere, Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe said Zimbabwean women should reject the draft constitution in the referendum expected to be held early next year if it does not provide for a 50 percent quota for women for seats in Parliament.
Khupe said she will campaign for a “No” vote on the constitution by women if their demand for what is termed 50-50 representation is not met. She was speaking at the relaunch in Harare this week of the 50-50 Campaign, first launched in 2006, before the Southern African Development Community adopted a similar protocol on gender.
Spokeswoman Tsitsi Mhlanga of the Women in Politics Support Unit, heading the drive to put more women in decision-making positions, told VOA reporter Sandra Nyaira that efforts to put a 50-50 policy in place are being frustrated by political parties.