What’s a Mere Constitution to One Appointed by God to Govern?


By Derek Matyszak

What is a mere constitution for one appointed by God to govern?

The transcript of the interview granted by Mugabe to the national broadcaster to mark his 91st birthday makes for depressing reading.

ZANU PF’s 6th National People Congress purported to ratify various amendments to the party constitution, including removing a requirement that one of the two Vice-Presidents be a woman. Previously the constitution established a Presidium of four as part of the Central Committee, providing for a President and First Secretary, a National Chairman and stating that there must be

“two Vice Presidents and Second Secretaries one of whom shall be a woman ….elected by Congress directly upon nomination by at least six (6) Provincial Co-ordinating Committees. After the amendment, the same clause was changed to read that there must be:

Two (2) Vice Presidents and Second Secretaries appointed in accordance with the Unity Accord by the President for their skill, experience, probity, integrity and commitment to the party ideology, values, principles and policies.

When asked about this change during the birthday interview President Mugabe responded:

Ah, have we removed it? I do not think we have removed it. We just ignored it for now….

This response is remarkable for several reasons. Firstly, despite having emphatically stated that he remains in charge of the party, Mugabe appears unaware of this important change to the party constitution by his supposed underlings. The second point of note is the unabashed admission by Mugabe of believing himself entitled to simply ignore the rules of the party as set out in its constitution. Since it is Mugabe, and Mugabe alone, who appoints the Vice-Presidents, the “we” who claimed to ignore the constitution is solely Mugabe. Mugabe had also chosen, immediately after the Congress, to ignore the requirement, set out in the same section, section 32, that a National Chairman must be appointed. The requirement in the ZANU PF Constitution that “women shall constitute at least one third of the total membership of the principal organs of the Party…” never seems to have been applied. Yet as part of the same response to the question about the amendment, in almost the same breath, Mugabe also stated:

…you must be a disciplinarian, obedient to the rules of the party. A good disciplinarian is the one who first applies discipline to himself or herself. You apply it to oneself you don’t go against the rules of the party. You follow the rules of the party….

This cameo encapsulates Mugabe’s style of governance – the delegation of duties to his underlings, but with little attention paid thereafter to how those duties are carried out or supervision. His minions are left to their own devices. And the belief that rules, procedures and constitutional requirements, which somehow do not apply to him, must be scrupulously followed by others, when he so demands. No restriction on doing what he deems expedient is even conceived of.

As with ZANU PF, so with the country….

Engendering the Constitution: A call to action for the Zimbabwe women’s movement


by Natasha Msonza

Yesterday the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development together with the women’s movement in Zimbabwe hold a constitutional conference intended to map strategy moving forward, in terms of aligning existing laws to the ‘new’ constitution. This, we are informed, is to ensure that the numerous gender sensitive provisions therein translate into tangible benefits for women. This is especially important given that there is no formal structure in Zimbabwe charged with overseeing the implementation of the Constitution. Among the objectives of this meeting are the endeavours to ‘sensitise’ women on the gender provisions in the Constitution as well as facilitate the sharing of regional best practices and lessons learnt on making the constitution work for women. 

The idea of learning from regional experiences is noble, and recently the UN Women facilitated a meeting where experts from Kenya and South Africa shared some important lessons to note and be wary of when undergoing such processes. Among other things, they pointed out that:

  • In seeking to strengthen implementation of gender equality in the constitution, it may be imperative to advocate for the institution of a body responsible for the implementation of the constitution, specifically with a broad mandate to monitor, facilitate and oversee the development of relevant legislation and administrative procedures required for effective implementation of the constitution.
  • The need to ensure that the Gender Commission is well and properly constituted, is extremely independent and with enough mandate to effectuate equity and equality provisions as provided for in the supreme law. This calls for the need for the women’s movement to itself make submissions of criteria to be considered for the selection of commissioners and what they want to see in this commission, including advocating for the proper financing of this and other key commissions.
  • Implementers may not be in a hurry to implement, and excuses not to implement gender matters may foreseeably be brought to the table, with arguments such as that there are no specific laws or policies. Women must be prepared to develop drafts of laws that will complement the process, or strengthen the capacities of the people charged with making the process possible.
  • The implementation of affirmative action, a concept not well understood even among women – will need to be carefully thought through and clear guidelines developed.
  • Civil society strategy may need to shift a gear up from lobbying and advocacy to monitoring and facilitating implementation, including the use of the tool of public interest litigation. There is also need to create a monitoring system within the women’s movement to oversee implementation. This includes monitoring appointments to commissions and seeing that these comply with constitutional provisions and any quota systems that may be in place.

The objective of ‘sensitizing’ Zimbabwean women on the provisions of the constitution though noble comes with its attendant challenges. Foremost, it must be said that before the 2013 referendum, the women’s movement worked extensively to cascade constitutional literacy among women – from holding conferences to translating and simplifying the document, all mainly in a campaign to influence a ‘Yes’ vote. It is critical to define what ‘sensitization of women’ now means in the context of seeking to re-align laws, particularly considering the prevailing context in Zimbabwe where people are pre-occupied with survival and just keeping body and soul together.

There is still a multiplicity of problems, where there is worry about where to get salaries for civil servants, the high levels of unemployment and high costs of living, among other things. In such a context, the Constitution becomes so remote, that it’s not an everyday bread and butter issue for ordinary people. How to rally people together and talk about the constitution again, and putting up a gender commission where the state is failing to provide basic services for the people can be a tall order. It’s generally difficult for an ordinary person to link the lack of service delivery to the constitution. The challenge is in finding creative ways of rallying people around the constitution, while they are seized with a multiplicity of problems and other competing and more immediate priorities. A clear and practical strategy will therefore be needed.    

Interrogating the culture of exclusion of women from key decision-making positions


by Kudakwashe Chitsike

In September 2013 the President selected his Cabinet and appointed only three women into it. Yet the Constitution clearly stipulates that Cabinet should have equal gender representation.  In response to the queries raised pertaining to his decision to appoint few women, the President stated that there weren’t enough women qualified to fill the positions, as women are not sufficiently educated to take up these high government posts. This prompted me to write an open letter to the President. My letter was unfortunately not responded to.

Yesterday, as I was going through the daily newspapers, I read that the Chief Justice, Godfrey Chidyausiku, had sworn in new Commissioners to the Judicial Service Commission. Out of curiosity, I checked to see how many women had been appointed and whether there were as many women as there were men. As to be expected, given the context of the Ministerial appointments, more men than women were appointed.  Although congratulations are and remain in order to the appointed female Commissioners; Mrs. Priscilla Mutembwi and Mrs. Priscilla Madzonga, along with 6 other male commissioners, there is still need to interrogate this continuing culture of the exclusion of women from occupying key decision-making positions. 

The Constitution stipulates in Section 17(1) (b) (i) that both genders should be equally represented in all institutions and agencies of government at all levels, and that (ii) women should constitute at least half the membership of all Commissions and other elective and appointed government bodies established by or under the Constitution and any Act of Parliament. 

Clearly this has not been followed, and it raises questions; is our Constitution just a guiding instrument whose sections can be taken up or disregarded at a whim? If the Constitution says there must be gender equality why is this not being adhered to?  Is the Constitution not the highest law in the land? So then if we do not follow it, how much more will we respect subsidiary legislation? 

It is civil society’s job to raise these questions as our Constitution – which is not even a year old – is going to be meaningless.  The women’s movement must work tirelessly to ensure that Section 17 of the Constitution is strictly followed, after all, this is one of the main reasons women were encouraged to vote for it. Let us not waste opportunities to raise issues as they arise.

There are 5 other commissioners that are yet to be appointed, I sincerely hope that most of the appointees are going to be women.  There is no excuse to say there are no qualified women; especially women lawyers.  If the relevant authorities are hard pressed to find qualified women lawyers, a simple phone call to Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association (ZWLA) for recommendations will provide them with a long list to choose from. 

Image
Chief Justice Chidyausiku congratulates newly sworn in Commissioner, Ms Priscilla Mudzonga. Picture by Munyaradzi Chamalimba

 

Free and Fair Elections?


Since 2010, RAU has been pointing out that the most important matter to be resolved ahead of any future elections is the reform of national institutions. This position has been repeatedly supported by SAPES and the Zimbabwe Liberators Platform. SADC, both through the Troika and the Summit, has also insisted on the deep message beneath the GPA: constitution AND reforms, then elections. Most recently, President Jacob Zuma himself has pointed out the need for urgent action ahead. Speaking at the recent meeting in Pretoria of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence, and Security, Zuma made the following points:

  • “Security sector realignment cannot be postponed any longer”;
  • “In this regard Jomic needs to be activated as a matter of priority”;
    “The facilitation team supplemented by the representatives of Tanzania and Zambia must be enabled to participate actively in Jomic”;
  • “Namibia as a member and incoming chair of troika should now be included” ;
  • “Without the above two points it will be difficult to ensure that there is no intimidation and that violence is not allowed to escalate, if and when it occurs.”

So, when the President and the Minister of Justice are quoted as saying that elections will be held by 29th June, and in the shenanigans around the continued detention of Beatrice Mtetwa and the 4 MDC officials and repeated harassment of NGOs, the total absence of reforms is now critical. The kinds of reforms now needed must be realistic and effective, for there is no longer time for the kind of wishful thinking that has characterized most calls for reform by Zimbabwean political parties and civil society bodies.

As we pointed out recently and several times previously, there are four key areas of reform that can change the electoral playing field[1]:

Firstly, the security sector needs oversight, what some have termed Security Sector Governance as opposed to Security Sector Reform. The latter is a decade-long process, while the former merely requires strong civilian oversight of the uniformed services and the intelligence agencies. This achieved in two ways: appointments of the senior officials through full consensus by all political parties, and a wholly civilian oversight body – in Zimbabwe’s case, agreement between the President and the Prime Minister of the appointments to the army, the police, the prisons, and the intelligence service, the disbanding of JOC, and a wholly civilian National Security Council.

Secondly, ensure that all state institutions adhere completely to their enabling legislation. The police are not allowed to be members of political parties or participate in political activities, and shall carry out their duties in a wholly non-partisan manner. Traditional leaders – chiefs, headmen, and village heads – are not allowed to be politically partisan, and must report all crimes in their areas of jurisdiction, without exception, to the police.

Thirdly, the Office of the Attorney-General (and the Attorney-General) must be completely non-partisan. The Attorney-General should be appointed with the agreement of both the President and the Prime Minister.

Fourthly, the state media – television, radio, and the press – shall be regulated by an independent body for instances of bias and the propagation of hate speech. Reform of the state media will a lengthy process, and, thus, in the short term all that is feasible is that there is an effective stop to all political bias and hate speech.

Add to this President Zuma’s latest comment that SADC observers need to be deployed well in advance of the election – now actually if the statements by the President and the Minister of Justice are to be taken seriously.

All of this will be difficult to achieve, but not impossible, but the big question is what to do if there is no credible attempt at reform. There can be only one position, that responsible political parties should not dignify flawed elections by participation. Actually, this should be their position right now. Whatever the constitution says, either the old or the new, adherence to minimal legalism will not solve the Zimbabwe crisis or bring legitimacy to the state if elections are a farce, and elections are farcical if citizens cannot speak, assemble, associate, and vote in complete freedom.

South Africa and SADC seem to see this quite clearly, but do Zimbabwean political parties. So, no reforms, no elections must be the call by all!

written by

Tony Reeler


[1] RAU (2012), On Restoring National Institutions and Elections. The Governance Programme. March 2012. HARARE: RESEARCH & ADVOCACY UNIT; Reeler, A. P (2013), Of Camels, Constitutions, and Elections. February 2013. HARARE: RESEARCH & ADVOCACY UNIT.

Kenya, Zimbabwe and elections


…though Kenya is in a better position than Zimbabwe, neither country has achieved the necessary reforms, as set out by their respective power-sharing agreements, to hold free and fair elections in 2013. While Kenya continues along a slow but determined road towards democratisation, it needs to start focusing on reconciliation and national cohesion efforts, to create a support base for the institutional reforms that are being achieved. Zimbabwe on the other hand, needs to start taking its transition seriously. It should first establish a constitution that is owned and supported by the people, from which other legislative reform can emerge. Zimbabwe must also address social cleavages so that election violence is minimized and political disputes can be resolved peacefully but most importantly so that Zimbabweans can start rebuilding their country[1].

 

The conclusion from this report, based on a meeting between Kenyans and Zimbabweans in 2012, are hardly heart-warming. As the Kenyan elections draw to their conclusion, and Zimbabweans anticipate their forthcoming elections, where will either country be by the end of the year? Both welcomed back to the fold of responsible international citizens, or once again embroiled in the negotiating of new power sharing arrangements?

 

For both countries, a relatively simple formula was agreed in the power sharing arrangements: new constitutions, reforms and then elections. Kenyans achieved their new constitution with huge consensus and enormous public participation, and then were able to engage the processes of reform needed ahead of elections. Zimbabweans have been caught up in an acrimonious process throughout the period of constitutional consultation, producing a draft at the eleventh hour, and consequently no reforms of any substance have taken place. In fact, the differences between Kenya and Zimbabwe in the area of reform are marked. As the Idasa report points out:

 

In summary, Kenya has been more successful than Zimbabwe in creating strong independent institutions. Kenya, despite several cases of procedural irregularity, has a more balanced relationship between the parties to the coalition government, and this has led to an ability to develop and adopt legislation and follow through on institutional reform. The gains made in this field include the adoption of a new constitution as well as ECK, security sector and judicial reform. In Zimbabwe, by comparison, the lack of independence of institutions due to the power imbalance has all but blocked reform, most specifically, reform of the Security Sector, the Judiciary and the ZEC. Both countries have failed to address media bias, corruption or electoral violence institutionally, presumably because those responsible for addressing these issues fear implication in the planning or orchestration of such activities[2].

 

Constitutions are only as good as the institutions that can implement and protect them, and this will be the acid test in examining how successful the two experiments have been. Perhaps it will be the constitutional process that will be the bench mark for seeing how well reform and then elections take place, and certainly there are huge differences between Kenya and Zimbabwe in this respect. Kenya was able to produce a draft in very good time that was very strongly supported by its citizens in a very peaceful referendum. Zimbabwe, by contrast, has had a miserable time of it, still has serious dissenters, and probably will get qualified acceptance in a low poll. And whether Justice Chiweshe is correct or not in his interpretation of the law, it is nonetheless unacceptable that citizens have such little time to examine the constitution.

 

As RAU and many others have continually pointed out, behind this sorry state of affairs in Zimbabwe is the blunt refusal of one party to contemplate the kinds of reforms necessary to the holding of decent elections. The other party demands reforms but passes on every significant issue that would demonstrate its commitment to reform. And so the needed transformation of “captured” state institutions has not taken place. The reforms in Kenya are not wonderful, but there has been reform in many areas, civil society has been visible and engaged in this, and consequently the electorate has gone into this election in great numbers. Assuming that it does not go as wrong as it did in 2008, and the losers accept their loss, Kenya may have made a very serious step towards consolidating its democracy: not because of elections per se, but because the reforms of state institutions created the conditions for good elections.

 

This is not the case for Zimbabwe, and, looking into the crystal ball, we might predict highly qualified support for the constitution, elections that lead to dispute and non-acceptance of the results, and more wrangling over what form a new GNU should take. And this is simply because the formula in Kenya – constitution AND reform, then elections – has not been the formula in Zimbabwe, where were have been forced in a less desirable formula – constitution, then elections and THEN reform.

 

The need for reform in Zimbabwe will be demonstrated once again with the release by Idasa on Friday of a detailed analysis of the state of Zimbabwe’s “democracy”, this time in a book authored by women researchers. This will undoubtedly show how much needed to be done under the GPA, and how little has in fact been done.


[1] See Eaglestone, A (2012), Ready or Not? Elections in Kenya and Zimbabwe in 2013. February 2013

Monitoring and Measuring Democracy Team, Idasa.

[2] See again Eaglestone, A (2012), Ready or Not? Elections in Kenya and Zimbabwe in 2013. p10.

5 Reasons why this woman is voting “Yes” in the Constitutional Referendum


Today we are using a piece by Teresa Mugadza which she wants disseminated widely. Leading up to the referendum on 16 March we will continue to put both our researcher’s views on the new Constitution and any others we feel may be interesting.

I want to start with a disclaimer. First, I do not represent anyone but myself and therefore my views are myopic to the extent that I represent my selfish interests. Second, I am a functionary of the inclusive government as a Commissioner, so I am sure there are some that will perceive me to be compromised just by that station. I, however, believe that this does not and should not preclude me from voicing my position as a Zimbabwean woman. Further, I am persuaded that after having read the Draft Constitution I owe it to fellow women, to state why I have chosen to vote “YES”.

Now having dispensed with the disclaimer, I must also hasten to add, that my decision to vote “YES” is not in any way to suggest that I do not have any issues related to the formulation of the Draft Constitution or the processes related to the forthcoming Referendum. I do… starting with the fact that I honestly do not believe that the process leading to the Draft Constitution itself was as participatory as it could have been. I am of the firm view that women were not heard to the extent they should have been. There is ample evidence of this from the COPAC reports. In terms of the forthcoming Constitutional Referendum itself, I am of the view that the time given for dissemination and analysis of the Draft Constitution to Zimbabweans is too short. I am not persuaded that exactly 30 days is adequate time for the kind of reading of the Draft Constitution that citizens need in order to make informed decisions on the day of the Referendum itself.  Finally I am not persuaded that the Draft Constitution will be circulated as widely as it should be before the Referendum. This could very well mean that people may end up voting for a Draft Constitution they have neither seen nor read and sadly in some instances, for a document whose contents they do not understand.

Now having dispensed with the preliminary issues, I want to go into why I am voting “Yes”.

  1. I am a firm believer in participation. One of my good friends likes to say “decisions are made by those that participate”, and I totally subscribe to that idea. I have voted in every election and referendum since I became eligible to vote, and this Referendum is going to be no exception. I will vote because I want to participate in what I believe is a very important and historic process in Zimbabwe’s democracy. Especially given that this process that will lead to the winding up of the inclusive government; something that everyone knows is long overdue!
  2. I do not want my rights to continue being determined by the Lancaster House Constitution. Voting “NO” would mean continuing under the current constitution. Never mind that my interests [even minimally] were never represented at its crafting; the current constitution limits my rights as woman, provides for my discrimination in certain instances and does not guarantee my right to participate in public life. Remember the notorious Section 23(3)? Given what I know is possible from the Draft Constitution; I have no reason to support the continuance of a constitution that discriminates against me!
  3. I am convinced that the Draft Constitution presents an opportunity for greater accountability in the exercise of power, something that is absent in the current Constitution.  Thus I will vote “YES” to ensure that the opportunity to encourage accountability is not lost.
  4. As stated earlier, I have had the privilege of reading the Draft Constitution. While indeed there are areas that could and should be improved in the future, I think the Draft Constitution has some very good provisions for women viz;
  • The Draft Constitution provides for the supremacy of the constitution over all other laws and policies, which means guarantee of women’s rights at the highest level.
  • The Draft Constitution is very clear that any law, policy, custom or tradition in violation of the guaranteed rights of women is unconstitutional.
  • The objectives of the Draft Constitution state that the provisions of the constitution will among other things promote the full participation of women in all spheres of life, recognizing women’s right to work and the fact that the work women do in raising a family is work. Importantly, the objectives also stress the importance of prevention of domestic violence and promotion of the girl child’s right to education.
  • The right to citizenship now applies on similar and equal criteria to women and men.
  • The bill of rights under the Draft Constitution is protected by law, comprehensive and even provides for expansion of those rights to include rights protected under international law.
  • The Draft Constitution provides for enhanced access to information and increases the grounds upon which one can claim access to information held by the State.
  • The Draft Constitution provides for equality in the guardianship and custody of children.
  • The Draft Constitution guarantees the right to equal pay and maternity leave.
  • The Draft Constitution provides for guaranteed “affirmative action” seats for women in Parliament, in addition to the ones those women wishing to contest will also have.
  • The Draft Constitution provides that the executive power is exercised through Cabinet subject to the Constitution, again reaffirming the supremacy of the Constitution over any law or policy.
  1. Finally, I am a woman so I don’t forget easily. There are two things I learnt in a similar process many years ago… also known as the 2000 Referendum.  First, I voted “NO” then, and the situation in my personal space and our nation worsened. I believe this is an opportunity to redeem myself. Second, as a woman, I think it is criminal for any nation to spend the amount and extent of resources [financial, human and time] as has been the case in the Constitutional Reform processes in Zimbabwe, twice in 12 years!, and still have nothing to show for it.

So for the above reasons, plus the many other positive and progressive provisions in the Draft Constitution that I have not addressed here, I am voting “YES”! I also hope my reasons for voting “YES” can inspire conversations on this Draft Constitution and encourage more women to participate in the Referendum.

Teresa Mugadza is the Deputy Chairperson of the Zimbabwe Anti-corruption Commission. She is writing in her in personal capacity and the views expressed in this article are her own.

 

Proportional Representation: Exploring the Unknown Unknown


There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.” This well known quote from Donald Rumsfeld comes to mind when considering the provisions relating to proportional representation which appear in the proposed constitution for the country. It is apparent, at least as far as the main political parties are concerned, that issues relating to proportional representation presently fall with the group of unknown unknowns.

The proposed constitution beguilingly provides that 60 of the 80 members of the Senate (six from each of the ten provinces, elected in such a manner as to ensure a near gender parity), 60 of the 270 members of the National Assembly (again, six from each province, all of whom must be women) and 10 persons on each Provincial Council, will be elected on the basis of proportional representation.

Thus the proposed constitution stipulates that an Act of Parliament must provide for the conduct of elections, and in particular, for a system of proportional representation for the election of persons to the seats in the Senate, the seats reserved for women in the National Assembly[1] and the procedure for filling vacancies in those seats.[2]

The election of Senators and Provincial Councillors is through a party-list system of proportional representation. This is based on the votes cast for candidates representing political parties in each of the provinces in the general election for Members of the National Assembly and in which male and female candidates are listed alternately, every list being headed by a female candidate. The formula used for those elected through proportional representation to the 60 seats reserved for women in National Assembly is the same, bar one important difference. While there is obviously no need for a requirement that male and female candidates are listed alternately on the party lists, the relevant provision egregiously omits any mention of party lists entirely.

Nonetheless, the broad idea is this: suppose, merely by way of illustration, that of the total votes cast for the National Assembly seats in the constituencies lying in Masvingo Province, MDC-T garners three-sixths, ZANU PF two sixths and MDC one-sixth. Then the top three persons on the MDC-T list of candidates for the Senate will gain seats, and the top two on the ZANU PF list for the Senate and the top candidate on the MDC list for the Senate will also gain seats. A similar process would be adopted for the Provincial Councils and the National Assembly women – though in the latter instance, how the candidates are to be determined is left open in the absence of any mention of party lists.

At first glance this seems straight forward and for this reason no further links seem to have been added to the chain of thought of the persons who negotiated the proposed constitution. However, unknown to the political parties, the devil lies in the unknown details of proportional representation which can lead to fiendish complexities.[3]

The aleatory fates will never be so kind that when the ratio of constituency votes in each province per party is determined, the result will be integers – such as 3:2:1. The calculation will, to be certain, produce ratios of the following ilk – 2.7 seats to MDC-T; 2.3 seats to ZANU PF; 0.67 seats to MDC and 0.33 seats to ZAPU.

What is to be done with the fractions? One could round MDC-T’s ratio up to the nearest integer and give it three seats and round ZANU PF’s down and give them two. What of the minor party votes? One could put their votes together and let them have a combined seat, or one could say they didn’t get enough votes separately for a seat, so the calculation must be done afresh ignoring their votes and dividing the seats amongst those who did get enough votes for a seat.

This is to provide but a few examples. There are a score of proportional representation systems which attempt to deal with this issue and which proffer different solutions to the problem. But crucially, the choice of system will affect the number of seats allocated to each party. One system might yield a 3:3 split of seats between MDC-T and ZANU PF, another a 4:2 split, and yet another a 3:2 split, all based on the same number of votes cast for each party. If this scenario is replicated for each of the ten provinces, the difference could be an extra ten seats in the National Assembly for one party if a system favourable to that party is deployed. If the balance of power in Parliament pertaining currently is replicated in the next election, these ten seats could determine whether a party holds a majority of seats in Parliament or not.

This majority would have the power to prevent or allow legislation to be sent to the President for his or her necessary assent and its passage into law. It would also hold the majority on the vital Parliamentary Committee on Standing Rules and Orders which determines the composition of the various Constitutional Commissions.

The proposed constitution blithely provides that an Act of Parliament shall provide “a system of proportional representation”. Which system is selected may be of vital importance. Some systems favour small parties; some favour large parties with a slight numerical advantage; and some favour large parties with a slight numerical disadvantage. Once the parties have crunched the numbers from the last elections and made their prognoses for the next, there may be some hard bargaining and negotiating to be done over the choice of proportional representation system.

Parliament will stand automatically dissolved on June 29th, 2013 by which time this issue will need to be resolved so that the legislation is in place in time for the election, which as legalities now have it, ought to be on roughly the same date.[4] Given the pace at which past negotiations have taken place between the main political parties, RAU respectfully suggests that each party’s respective mathematicians and statisticians get number crunching now and the talks on this issue commence immediately thereafter.

 

Derek Matyszak

RAU 26.02.13


[1] For unknown reasons the members of the Provincial Council elected by proportional representation are omitted from this provision (section 157).

[2] The vacancies must be filled by persons belonging to the same political parties and who are of the same gender as those who previously held the seats.

[3] And sophisticated and subtle voter decision making. This is exacerbated by the fact that the way proportional representation has been structured under the proposed constitution means that a single vote for a National Assembly candidate will also determine the elector’s choice of reserved seats for women in the National Assembly, Senatorial candidates and Provincial Councillors. What if the voter adores the first candidate on the party Senate list and abhors the candidate standing for the National Assembly? And what if a candidate beloved of the party but less so of the electorate is put up as a party candidate for the National Assembly and placed top of the Senate list?

[4] A court order, which already reflects two applications for a postponement, requires the President to gazette the dates for three of several outstanding by-elections before the 31st March, 2013.  Although, the order only pertains to by-elections in three constituencies, the postponement of the by-elections has been granted on the basis of the President’s assertions that he intends to set the dates for a general election before the 31st March, 2013. His proclamation in this regard must set the date for the sitting of the nomination courts no later than 21 days from the date of the proclamation and the elections must take place no later than 63 days after the sitting of the nomination courts. This makes the latest date for the elections (if a further postponement is not sought or the President is not to be held in contempt of Court) the 23rd June, 2013.