Wednesday 6 June 2018


LEGAL experts yesterday described as political grandstanding and posturing the MDC Alliance’s demands for electoral reforms as it is unconstitutional to amend any law after the proclamation of an election date.

Section 157, sub section 5 of the Constitution says: “After an election has been called, no change to the Electoral Law or to any other law relating to elections has effect for the purpose of that election”.

In separate interviews yesterday following a demonstration by the MDC Alliance in Harare demanding electoral reforms, the lawyers said the party was being hypocritical.
Constitutional law expert Professor Lovemore Madhuku said no reform can take place after proclamation.

“It terms of Section 157 Sub section 5, it is correct that the Constitution does not allow any amendment to the Electoral Law after proclamation. That cannot be done, to do that you have to amend the Constitution. So for now it cannot be done legally.

“In terms of the law as it stands, that can no longer be done. Even Parliament cannot change the law now until the election has been done,” he said.

Prof Madhuku said the MDC-T Alliance was now vacillating from a clause that it demanded be inserted into the Constitution as they claimed former President Mr Robert Mugabe would make last minute changes after proclamation.

“That clause in the Constitution is a clause that was inserted into the Constitution at the insistence of the MDC, those are the things that they were saying when they were urging people to vote YES. It was among the things that they were saying are good about the Constitution,” he said.
“When we (his party the National Constitutional Assembly) were campaigning for a NO vote, they kept convincing people that when there is a proclamation there would no longer be changes to the Electoral law, they were saying it would be Mugabe who would change the law at the last minute and they insisted to have that clause inserted into the Constitution”.

Prof Madhuku said the MDC should not advocate for selective application of the law.
“They should be frank enough to accept that they don’t read the law and I think that the country does not deserve leadership of that nature. They should be true to themselves to admit that they made a mistake by that clause and amend it,” he said.

Prominent Harare lawyer Mr Jonathan Samkange questioned why the MDC Alliance was demanding electoral reforms at the last minute yet their legislators had a whole five-year term in Parliament to amend the Electoral law.

“What they are asking to be done is illegal. If a proclamation has been made, you can’t have any reforms now.

“I have always had this view that these things they are crying about, why didn’t they amend them when they were in power. Remember 2008 gave them the majority in Parliament, why did they not amend things that they thought were wrong,” he said.

“They had the majority and Parliament’s main function is to make laws and when laws are already made, you can amend them. Why did they not do that? For the past five years they have been there. These laws that they are crying about were not made last year. They have always been there. If they had the will, that would have been done by now”.

Mr Samkange said any amendments to the law are done in Parliament and not on the streets.

“My view is that they know that they will not win the election so they are already preparing to use challenges an as excuse. Where have they been over these five years?” he said.
A Bulawayo lawyer who requested anonymity for professional reasons said the move by the MDC Alliance to grandstand on the issue of Electoral reforms would not stop the election from taking place.

“The party (MDC-T) is blessed to have a number of lawyers, even its President is a lawyer but instead of pushing for electoral reforms from 2013, they wait for proclamation to stage demonstrations. Demonstrations do not bring about amendments, it shows failure on their part because they have been there since 2013 and they are only pushing them now,” said the lawyer.

He said the MDC Alliance’s claim that there would be no election if there are no reforms is a fallacy.
“There are 130 other political parties; the election cannot stop because of one party. It’s too late for reforms,” said the lawyer.

MDC-T secretary general Mr Douglas Mwonzora told The Chronicle on Monday that the demonstration seeks to redress those things that dialogue has not addressed.

“For example, issues to do with the voters roll, the militarisation of Zec and that this election must be United Nations, African Union, Sadc guaranteed.

Those are the fundamental demands that dialogue has not resolved.
“It is in respect of those things that were seek to demonstrate and press the Government to stop being arrogant and get into positive action and give Zimbabweans what is due to them,” he said. Herald


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