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The Electoral Amendment Bill, which will align poll laws with the new Constitution, sailed through the National Assembly without amendments on Wednesday, and it will now be transmitted to the Senate.

Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa steered the Bill, but expressed reservations on some observations by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.

MDC-T Harare West MP Ms Jessie Majome’s committee presented a report on the Bill compiled after conducting public hearings in some parts of the country. Minister Mnangagwa said calls to allow Diasporans to vote was unsustainable in a number of respects.

He said it was prudent to confer the right to vote to those who were in the Diaspora on Government business and not those who voluntary left.

“Do we include those of our citizens who have not resided in the country for two years?” he said. “If we include them, are we not violating the principle of the residence-based voting system?”

Minister Mnangagwa also said holders of voting slips be allowed to cast ballots. He said it was unfair to prejudice a potential voter for using a voting slip because efforts to register would have been made within the lawfully prescribed time.

The portfolio committee had recommended that voting slips be done away with. Minister Mnangagwa also said it unwise to employ non-civil servants as polling officials since it would be difficult to discipline them.

He described suggestions by the committee that members of the security services vote away from their workstations as extraordinary, saying that amounted to disfranchisement.

Source : The Herald