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SENATE HANSARD 8 JUNE 2023 VOL 32 NO 36
PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE
Thursday, 8th June, 2023.
The Senate met at Half-past Two o’clock p.m.
(THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE in the Chair)
ANNOUNCEMENTS BY THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE
SWITCHING OFF OF CELLPHONES
THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Good afternoon Hon. Senators. Can I remind the Hon. Senators once again to put your phones on silent or switch them off?
ELECTORAL AMENDMENT BILL [H. B.11A, 2022]
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Thank you Mr. President Sir and good afternoon. Allow me to present the Second Reading Speech for the Electoral Amendment Bill. The Bill seeks to align our electoral Act with international norms and standards and the Constitution of Zimbabwe (2013), as amended by Constitution Amendment Act No. 2 of 2021.
The Bill shall amend the definition section of the Electoral Act to include the following:
It is proposed that the definition section (Section 4) of the Electoral Act be amended so that it includes what is termed as a disqualifying offence. A disqualifying offence is where one is convicted in Zimbabwe of an offence of which breach of trust, dishonesty or physical violence is an essential element. Additionally, if outside of Zimbabwe, it is when one is convicted of a conduct which, if committed in Zimbabwe, would be an offence of which breach of trust, dishonesty or physical violence is an essential element. The Constitution, in Section 129 (1) (i) requires a sitting Member of Parliament to vacate his or her seat if they have been convicted of these offences. For the sake of consistency, the amendment proposes that persons who would be disqualified from continuing as MPs and those aspiring would have committed such an offence should also not be allowed to stand as candidates for election.
The Bill seeks to align Sections 49 and 126 with Section 107 of the Electoral Act so that they include the withdrawal of parliamentary local authority candidature within 21 days before elections. While the law is clear on the timeframe regarding withdrawal of candidature for a presidential election, it is however silent with regards to parliamentary and local authority elections.
Section 107 (1) of the Electoral Act provides that a presidential candidate can withdraw their candidature twenty-one days before polling in order to afford sufficient time for the Electoral Commission to make changes to the design of the ballot and to advise the electorate of any changes to the candidature of that election. Thus, the Bill seeks to apply the same law to the parliamentary and local authorities.
The Bill also seeks to expand the role of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to include promotional research into electoral matters, development of expertise and use of technology. This will enable the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to play a coordination role between Government, political parties and civil society organisations in regards to elections as well as ensuring gender mainstreaming in electoral processes.
The Bill seeks to align the Electoral Legal Framework with the Constitution of Zimbabwe (2013) which provides for 30% women representation both in Parliament and in local authorities. This is also in line with the SADC Protocol on gender and development of 2008. The current Electoral Act has not made provisions on how the women’s quota should be filled.
The Bill further seeks to encompass the additional 10% youth quota as introduced by Constitution Amendment (No. 2) of 2021. This will allow the youths to be fully represented in both, Parliament and in local authorities.
Mr. President, Section 67 of the Constitution confers political rights on every Zimbabwean which extends to the right to stand for elections for public office. The Bill seeks to remove constraints on this right by being explicit in that nomination fees should not be exorbitant nor inhibitive but reasonable enough to allow any eligible citizen to stand for election for public office.
The Bill is progressive in respect of age and gender inclusivity and also in giving guarantees to political rights. I therefore urge Hon. Senators to support and pass the Bill. I so submit and move that the Bill be now read a second time. I thank you.
*HON. SEN. KOMICHI: Thank you Mr. President for affording me the opportunity to also contribute to the Electoral Amendment Bill. First and foremost, I would want to thank him for saying the nomination fees should not be prohibitive. It should allow people to open up and be able to participate. You are expected to have money as a Member of Parliament but the role of a parliamentarian can only be done by someone who knows what they are doing as long as they meet the three requirements of oversight, representation and making of laws.
The fees that are doing the rounds on social media are very exorbitant in that a lot of aspiring candidates would fail to raise them. Such figures are out of reach for the majority of Zimbabweans bearing in mind the challenges that we are currently facing. It also gives a wrong impression in that our country would be painted black because of such fees. I am happy with the figures that the Minister has suggested that these be reduced to affordable levels.
I would like to raise my perception of the electoral system. Our electoral system which we currently have needs interrogation and reviewing. The electoral system forms the foundation of our governance system as a country. It also contributes negatively to how we are ruling this country or our everyday life, especially with the challenges that we have of sanctions and abject poverty. The present law that is operational in Zimbabwe was adopted from the whites but today we are feeling the pinch. It has hurt us more because it is causing people not to live harmoniously. It talks about democracy but there are fights and people are abusing one another and that is why there was the passing of the patriotic Bill because the electoral system that we have is a lose-lose situation. If one were to lose, one becomes cruel. We should interrogate the system and see if it is adequate for us as Zimbabweans and Africans. I believe it is not adequate for us because it does not unite us after every election.
If you look at the history of Zimbabwe after every election, we go into a fighting mode and forget to focus on the economy, which is our main job. Our main job is not power or the retention of it but the economy. We lose track once an election occurs. The Americans who are said to be the best in terms of democracy have also failed. If you look at the fight between Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump, for the past four years they are not focusing on the economy. They are at each other’s throats because of this winner take all situation. This winner takes all system should be disbanded because it does not help us. Let us come up with systems that have an Afrocentric view. It has no African identity. It is foreign based. It is being used by foreigners to enhance their political views over us. They set a standard over a process that we would not understand and as Zimbabwe, we will not pass.
After the liberation struggle, we defeated the whites and we repossessed our land. The whites are concerned that Zimbabwe will never pass any form of election because of those two measures. Therefore, winner take all aspect of election will not help us. We have an active civil war in DRC, Nigeria, Somalia and Sudan - it is because of this policy of winner take all and the retention of power because the losers will not get anything. In the end, we give our detractors a chance to punish us because of the electoral system that we have. The whites are proud of it. They come and monitor our elections every five years but we do not go there to monitor their elections. They oppress us and as a result of that, we suffer.
Winner take all form of election Mr. President and Minister please kindly listen, it is like Newton’s law of motion which states that there is an equal and opposite reaction for every action. I am saying that these forces should not act in opposite direction. It is not true that you need a very strong opposition. No growth takes place when forces are equal. This is what is prevailing in Africa as a whole and as a result, there is poverty because of this opposition since it is being used to remove certain leaders out of power for they are no longer wanted by certain people in the western world.
It is now 32 years since Zambia changed power and they have had eight Presidents in that period, meaning to say each of them has ruled for four years. Can there be a President who successfully run a vision in four years and be successful? It will only create instability. The system will not work in Zambia and here in Zimbabwe. Africa is under poverty because it has left the systems which were used in the past.
The chiefs used to rule this country very well, no one would starve. They used to do what they call idala, in Ndebele they call it Ilima, the Shona people call it nhimbe/humwe. It was a co-operative way where we could spend a day in someone’s field but when the whites colonised us, we abandoned that system. Instead of using that system to develop it to the modern technology of today, we abandoned it and borrowed theirs. Comrade Nyambuya, think of it during the war – I call you Cde Nyambuya because of your contribution during the liberation struggle. You said you were not fighting the colour of the skin of the person but you were fighting the system that was oppressing the black majority. Then they realised that the black man was now clever. Immediately, they brought the Lancaster House Conference, we took Cde. Mugabe straight from Mozambique into leading the Government of the new independent Zimbabwe, using the same systems of Ian Smith. We later removed Cde. Mugabe and replaced him with Cde. Mnangagwa but we still use the same oppressive systems. It was working very well for the white man because it was designed for them – a few people. That system did not have anything Afro-centric about it but we forgot about us. It is not only in Zimbabwe where we forgot, but all over Africa.
What is in Nhimbe/idala/ilima, the three principles I talked about there is unity, peace and a shared vision. Any society that runs on those three principles succeed, whether it is marriage, burial society, business or what. If you maintain those three principles you will succeed. As Africans, we must go back to those principles and say how can we have unity, peace and a shared vision as a governing system of our nation. Nhimbe, I recommend it with the help of traditional leaders; with the help of the social scientists; with the help of our President, we can develop a system that can suit us to run this country, once and for all and can develop our economies, zvokuti zvinonakidza zvokuti bhee.
The fact that our traditional leaders long back used to stock food for its people and no-one would starve, they had Zunde raMambo. Zunde raMambo enabled the vulnerable communities to be assisted so that they also have food. Those who would run out of food could dwell on the chief’s reserve. They had an Afro-centric strategy that worked very well. Why are we failing to feed our people when we have black people on the helm, RBZ, gold, lithium, diamond, soil, everything, water is under us? We are failing simply because we are using a system that was designed to oppress us. We will remain oppressed. Let us remove this system and put an Afro-centric system that is ours.
In Zimbabwe, we have got a problem of finger pointing that the problem is caused by Cde. Ziyambi, Cde. Komichi, Cde. Nyambuya and the like. The elephant in the room is not individuals. Poverty is the elephant in the room. If we destroy poverty, we would not blame each other. If we destroy poverty, we would not even kill each other. If we destroy poverty, there would be no enormity in Zimbabwe and Africa at large. There is nothing like that, poverty is the thing we must destroy.
Through principles of nhimbe, which is unity, peace and a shared vision, we can actually destroy poverty. We did this before, remember Hon. President when we came from war, you were so bitter nevarungu. You did not want to see Smith at all, UANC (Madzakutsaku), at least ZAPU and ZANU had some common relationship but we formed a Nhimbe Government in 1980 in which we brought all the powers that were there. ZANU, ZAPU, UANC, RF yaSmith and we achieved unity. We achieved peace and we achieved shared vision. We had our own internal problems, which we had between the Matabeleland area and the Government by then. In 1987, again we formed a Nhimbe Government in which Cde. Nkomo became the Deputy President to President Mugabe.
In 2008, we had another internal conflict, where people killed each other. We formed a Nhimbe Government again, in which we achieved peace, unity and shared vision. On those three instances, our economies grew but because we were doing it in a dishonest manner, we had some challenges. If we are to do it voluntarily, plan it properly and implement it properly, we can have a boom in the economy in Zimbabwe and Africa at large. Therefore, I call upon His Excellency, Hon. E. D. Mnangagwa to take up this challenge and implement the Nhimbe Government in Zimbabwe. Go further outside Zimbabwe and persuade SADC and go further out of SADC and persuade Africa because that is how Africans live. Africans do not unnecessarily fight for things; we live in harmony.
What I believe is, if we apply the Nhimbe Government, even ruling of the country becomes easy. The problems that we are having now in running the country, number one is poverty and it will go; number two sanctions will be removed because there will be no purpose for the sanctions. Sanctions could be there to serve certain interests but when we are now operating in a Nhimbe set up, what will be the reason for the sanctions? They will go. Number three, Africa would realise its hugeness. It is a gigantic economy yakavata. If we go back to the principles of Murmur Gadhafi and Kwame Nkrumah, you could see that the economy of Africa is a giant, if what is being said about Lybia is correct that anyone who marries would get a house and aita mwana opihwa mari, opihwa imba. We are the greatest continent in the world but poorest continent in the world. Why, it is because we are using a borrowed governing system which must be changed with immediate effect. We proved that this is feasible
So again, let me repeat the call. Our traditional leaders stood up, to educate us. If Zimbabweans are to unite right now, there are immediate benefits. If we are to unite today, the exchange rate would drop from its escalating levels of 7 000 because through unity, peace and shared vision, it will give people the confidence.
If politicians would share power today, everything would stabilise. Corruption would go down. Corruption rises as a result of abject poverty but if we can share power today – we are brothers, we are interlinked, instead of fighting, we must unite and build our own country. If we unite today, the Zimbabwean citizens will enjoy the development and growth. If we unite today, the university students would be very happy because they would be able to get grants. The education system which is in shambles with teachers conducting extra lessons, there will be no need of extra lessons because you will be able to pay your teachers enough money to have books and everything else. The education system would work. The youth will definitely benefit. There will be employment because the moment we unite, we will be able to negotiate with the western and eastern world at an equal footing. We will not be inferior to the east or west. We will be an equal partner in the global political sphere. So, they will not be able to oppress us because we will be standing with our own resource.
While they have technology in Europe, we have got resources in Africa; so we cannot play second fiddle. In hospitals we will have medicine. We tried it in 2008 and we got those things. Civil society will benefit from the safe working environment. There will be no need for the Patriotic Bill, Mr. President. There will be no need for the PVO Bill if we unite today because we will be living in harmony. The business economy will flourish and even the clarion call by the President that a nation can only be built by its children will be realised. As the children of Zimbabwe, we will work towards the development of the nation because we will be united and having a shared vision. Right now, the nation will be build by ZANU PF and not its citizens.
Therefore, if we share a vision, we will build the nation together. Even the 2030 vision will be a reality if we get united today and the goals of the country will be achieved because we will be working together. Civil servant’s salaries would be strong. We will do all this if people work together and fight corruption. As I said before, corruption will definitely disappear. The prices of commodities will go down and Zimbabwe will definitely be open for business which is the clarion call by the President. Many things will happen Mr. President.
Let me take this time to thank you Mr. President for giving me the opportunity to air my views and to share what I think Zimbabwe should adopt. If possible, more details can be provided if the Minister is interested outside Parliament. Thank you,
HON. SEN. MOHADHI: Thank you Mr. President for giving me this opportunity to just add a few points that I think are very important. I would also like to thank the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs who brought this Bill to this august House.
I want to touch on one issue, which l want to thank the Minister for; when you talked about the 30% quota for women. We really appreciate because the numbers of women are ever deteriorating just because the first past-the-post is not assisting us as women. We have often tried to be there but we are often defeated by men just because of the strength that we have and the lack of resources as women. So I do think this 30% for the quota for women, both in the Parliament as well as in the councils, is a welcome development, but Minister, I have a question on the quota for women in the councils. I do not understand properly if you could just assist by elaborating how it will look like and how it is going to work because to me, I do not have enough information on this one.
Secondly Minister, there is an issue; I do not know whether it should be in this Electoral Bill. As we are going for elections now, there is an element of hate speech. I do not know where it should fall exactly but I feel it is an issue because we will be pulling each other down and there will be nothing that will stop this hate speech. As a result, at the end of the day, maybe that is why our elections are always disputed most of the time. I think there is a need for this issue to be also included. If it is included fair and fine.
It is unfortunate because we did not have enough time to read this Bill, because it was posted very late and as women, always, we have other duties to do and as a result, we fall short of time to read it through, but for now Mr. President, I thought I should just add my voice before I support this Bill which is good for us as women. I thank you.
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Thank you Mr. President. I want to thank the Hon. Senators who have contributed to the debate, starting with Hon. Sen. Komichi who was lamenting the borrowed electoral system that we have. How it leaves us a divided nation and it being a product of our colonisers, without any Afrocentric character in it. He also was very happy that the Bill is addressing the issue of nomination fees so that it spells out that they have to be affordable so that the political rights as enshrined in the Constitution are realised by all Zimbabweans.
I want to come to his point on our electoral system, Mr. President, and say I agree that we are using an electoral system that is alien to us as Africans and I do not think I can put it any better. In fact, our electoral system, like he rightly put, divides us more than it unites us. It does not give us any advantage save that, what it does is it allow us to be under the scrutiny and supervision of those that colonised us. At each and every election, we hear them say we want to come and observe your elections and then when they have observed the elections, they will say these are our recommendations. In fact, they will be saying recommendation but it is not a recommendation. They will say it is mandatory, you must take them because we have given you. So it is like they are our commanders, so to speak, who tell us you must turn right there, and you cannot turn left there, just go straight. That is exactly what they do and I am very thankful that he brought out another issue that they will never be happy for as long as an election is not won by the person they want. They will always say it is disputed or they will create a contestation so that they say the playing field was not level.
I agree that as Africans, I have not heard anyone talk about Eswatini where there is a King. They do not even give them all those issues to say you must do this to enhance democracy or it is not there. They have maintained their culture and system of governance. I believe if I am to add to what he was saying, it is a conversation that we need going forward, to say how do we govern ourselves as Africans so that when they come, we will tell them no, in our culture this is how we choose leaders and so you cannot tell us.
We will never come to your country and dictate how you choose your leaders, in our culture, this is how we do it. The way it was done in our culture, there was no contestation, save for minor squabbles. I agree with him, he put it in a manner that I am persuaded to adopt everything, even the example that he gave of Zambia. If you hear our colonisers speak about Zambia, you may think it is now a second Garden of Eden, but they have been changing like he rightly said, Presidents every four years and nobody can do anything in four years.
By the time you are in motion in terms of your developmental strategy, you are out. Somebody comes and that is what has been happening. I agree with him that elections divide us, not only do they divide us, they are also very expensive and they leave no unity, no shared development like he rightly put it and I agree with that. I think it is a conversation Hon. Sen. Komichi, that is needed for our country.
Hon. Mohadi was thankful about the women’s quota, the 30%. The thrust is His Excellency wants more women to participate in politics, hence he heeded to the call from women councillors that can we not have a women’s quota. The way it is going to be done – it is 30% of the total number of councillors that are in council. If we have 100 councillors, it means through proportional representation 30 will be elected. If we have two parties for instance, MDC and CCC, and MDC gets 70% of the total votes combined for councillors and CCC gets 30%, it means out of this 30, you then calculate and you say 70% of 30, which is 21. It means MDC will get 21 and CCC will get 9, that is how it is done.
This is how it is going to be done even for this election. In this election, this Electoral Bill will not be used but because provisions for the youth quota and the women’s quota for council is there in the Constitution, the Constitution is the Supreme Law and the drafters of the Constitution were very clever and said interpreting any legislation including the Electoral Act, you must give effect to what is in the Constitution. I hear that there are people who are saying that some of these issues may be late. So, what will happen to the election - ZEC is supposed to take the Electoral Act and the Constitution.
The Constitution says they must be 30% and they give effect to it and ensure that it happens. That is what is going to happen but after this election, the Electoral Amendment Bill will work as soon as we get another by-election, it will become part of the Electoral Act. You also spoke about hate speech that it is not there. We developed a code of conduct. Under normal circumstances, even if we are going to an election, the general laws of the country must apply.
You must not assault someone but we also decided that over and above that, parties will sign an agreement that this is the conduct that they use when they are campaigning. Sometimes when you are campaigning, I can say Hon. Phugeni is not very clear or you use other words. Sometimes in that scenario, you must tolerate because it is campaign period and vice-versa but when it gets to an extreme where the hate speech may cause disharmony, I think our general laws must apply as well as the code which we have put in.
The last time when this Electoral Amendment Bill was made, both Houses agonised as to whether we must give ZEC powers to punish candidates. We tried to do it but we feel that it will be giving ZEC too much powers in that the campaign period and the time for elections is so limited to the extent that arbitrary decisions will be made. An allegation will just be made to say Ziyambi was saying 1, 2, 3 and 4. There is no time to call evidence, to adjudicate the evidence and give a fair and appropriate judgement.
We believe that any informal agreement as to the conduct of the parties per the Electoral Act is ideal as opposed to severe sanctions where candidates can be withdrawn by the electoral body. Having said that, allow me also to add that during debate in the National Assembly, we reached consensus on a lot of issues that were being raised by our colleagues from both sides particularly from the Opposition. Issues to do with the conduct of elections, what they viewed as critical issues in terms of electoral reforms.
I can mention some of them because we agreed and we removed them. They spoke about issues of having a transitional authority headed by the Chief Secretary and we had a debate on it and indicated to them that a President will remain the President of the country until the next President is sworn in. That is what the Constitution says. So in between, if you try to create another authority, you are usurping the powers of that President because you will not have handed over power and we agreed. There were issues also to do with diaspora vote. We debated but, in the end, we agreed and we did not vote over it. It was through consensus that it was withdrawn and we removed it from the Order Paper. We also agreed to leave the driver’s licence there and we also had other issues to do with voters, prisoners and those in hospital voting, again we agreed that we remove it. By and large, I am saying this because we are going for an election. The majority of issues that were being alleged as electoral reforms, in the end we agreed that these issues do not affect our elections, so let us drop them.
What remains here are issues that we agreed are necessary for now for us to go forward.Largely, our electoral laws are very adequate. They can render our elections free, fair and credible. So, we took on board all those issues. Having said that, I move that the Bill be now read a second time.
Motion put and agreed to.
Bill read a second time.
Committee Stage: With leave, forthwith.
ELECTORAL AMENDMENT BILL [H. B. 11A, 2022]
House in Committee.
Short Title put and agreed to.
Clauses 1 to 15 put and agreed to.
Bill reported without amendments.
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): There was an error on consolidating the Bill when it came from the National Assembly. I will seek recommittal so that we take note of the error and the drafters will correct it. On Clause 8, on Nomination of Party Lists Candidates on Youth – there is no party list for youths. It is only one youth who is below 35. So, here it says lists, names, addresses and national identity numbers of one female and one male. There will be a list with females at the top and males at number 2, which means, how it has been captured there all the youths will be females.
The correct position from the National Assembly was - each party will submit one youth between the ages of 21 and 35 and no issues of gender. I submit and propose that the correction be made on Clause 8 so that it is captured appropriately. In case somebody will pick it and say why was it corrected by drafters.
Third Reading: With leave, forthwith.
ELECTORAL AMENDMENT BILL [H. B. 11A, 2022]
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): I move that the Bill be now read the third time.
Motion put and agreed to.
Bill read the third time.
ADJOURNMENT OF THE HOUSE
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): I want to thank Hon. Senators; this week has been very busy indeed and for the dedication that was shown by the Senators and yourself Mr. President Sir, it was amazing. I want to thank everyone involved. Having said that, we had a busy week, I do not think anyone would mind if I move that the House do now adjourn.
Motion put and agreed to.
The House accordingly adjourned at Twenty-Six Minutes to Four o’clock p.m. until Tuesday, 13th June, 2023.