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The COPAC draft: An analysis of the proposed electoral system
Election Support Network
August 08, 2012
ZESN held a
public meeting at the New Ambassador Hotel on the 7th of August
2012. The topic was Constitutional
Reform-The COPAC draft constitution: An analysis of the proposed
electoral system: What are its pros and cons? There were three speakers
from different political parties namely Prof John Makumbe (Academic),
Dr Makoni (Mavambo - Kusile Dawn), Mrs Miriam Mushayi (MDC) and
the moderator was Prof Rudo Gaidzanwa.
The major highlights
were as follows:
- The speakers
highlighted that the Draft
proposes a hybrid system, retains the winner-takes-all system
for the House of Assembly and introduces Proportional Representation
for the Senate and commended it for its representative character.
- The speakers
highlighted that the advantages of the hybrid system are that
it enhances democracy, inclusivity, and it enables power sharing
at the legislative level, retains broad representation (LIST-PR),
widens political complexion of parliament, opens two gates into
parliament (party & constituency), and consensus building
amenable to gender equality.
- They commended
the principles of the electoral system proposed such as that it
must be conducted by secret ballot, free from violence and other
electoral malpractices and ensure that all eligible citizens are
registered as voters.
- Prof Makumbe's
interpretation of the law on electoral violence was that any candidate
found instilling violence would be disqualified. He commended
this proposal as he believes that it will go a long way in ensuring
a free and fair election and participation of women in politics
as past elections have been characterized by electoral intimidation
- The MDCs
said the electoral system is commendable as it provides that all
political parties and candidates contesting an election or participating
in a referendum should have fair and equal access to electronic
and print media, both public and private.
- The MDC speaker
hailed the proposition that this electoral system should ensure
the timely resolution of electoral disputes. However, the public
dismissed the use of "timely announcement" arguing
that it is subject to abuse and demanded for a clear time frame.
- Two speakers
applauded the constitution for reserving 60 non-constituency seats
for women. However, this proved to be a contentious issue as Dr
Simba Makoni argued that women are competent enough to contest
in elections therefore there was no reason for the reservation
of 60 seats. Further he mentioned that women should feel offended
by the paltry 60 seats they were being offered. The public's
view was that the additional 60 seats for women had its advantage
of ensuring gender equality however the concern is an addition
of more legislators on an already overblown parliament facing
financial constraints. Some members of the public felt that the
60 could have been drawn or incorporated in the 210 existing seats
rather than to create more seats and overburdening the already
- Mrs Mushayi
argued that there was nothing wrong with the 60 seats for women
as Zimbabwe is a signatory to many regional and international
instruments that supports gender equity. She urged men to move
away from the notion of mentioning competency only when it comes
to women as they are equal chances to find male legislators who
are not competent.
- Some participants
argued that there is no justification for the clause on 2 vice
presidents given that Zimbabwe is a small country which is currently
facing economic challenges.
- One participant
expressed dissatisfaction over the failure by COPAC to release
the national report as it denies citizens an opportunity to gauge
whether their views are reflected in the draft.
the public meeting was well attended and there was a healthy exchange
of ideas and views from the various political parties and the public.
It can be noted that in general the political parties present were
in agreement that the Draft was an improved document which deserved
a chance to be put to the test of the referendum. The two MDC representatives
pledged to call for a "yes" vote whereas Dr. Makoni,
the interim President of the MKD argued that the document was not
good enough for Zimbabwe.
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