Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter—
Former Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Dr Gideon Gono’s elevation to Manicaland Senator now appears imminent after Parliament passed the Electoral Amendment Bill. The Bill was sent to President Mugabe recently for his assent. It outlines how vacant parliamentary seats are supposed to be filled following the expiry of the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act in December last year.
The temporary measures were used to conduct harmonised elections on July 31, resoundingly won by Zanu-PF.
The Politburo approved recommendations by the party’s Manicaland provincial executive to have Dr Gono replace the late national hero Cde Kumbirai Kangai, who died in August last year.
Dr Gono could not take up the seat because the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act that gave legal effect to fill vacant parliamentary seats had expired after their six-month mandatory lifespan.
In an interview yesterday, Zanu-PF spokesperson Cde Rugare Gumbo said the revolutionary party’s nomination of Dr Gono to replace Cde Kangai still stands.
“We have not made any changes on that. The proposal to have Dr Gono is still on the table. We are just waiting for the legal processes to take their course,” Cde Gumbo said.
The Electoral Amendment Bill sailed through Parliament in May this year without amendments.
Parliament has since submitted the Bill to the President for his assent. Senate President Cde Edna Madzongwe made an announcement that she had submitted the Bill to President Mugabe in the Government Gazette last week.
The passage of the Bill is part of Government efforts to align laws with the new Constitution.
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission chairperson Justice Rita Makarau is on record saying the electoral body was waiting for the passage of the Bill before they could confirm Dr Gono to replace Cde Kangai.
She said the expiry of the legal instrument created a vacuum on how ZEC would handle replacement of deceased legislators under the party list system.
Section 15 of the Bill empowers a party holding a seat in respect of party-list members to nominate a “qualified” person to fill a vacancy that might have occurred.
The party list has members that a political party would have submitted to ZEC to represent it in a given province ahead of a general election.
The names are listed in terms of preference.
ZEC would in turn publish the name in a Government Gazette inviting objection, if any, before confirming the member.
Section 15 (3)(b) reads as follows: “ In the event of a vacancy occurring among the party-list members of the Senate or of the National Assembly, otherwise than through a dissolution of Parliament, the president of the Senate or the Speaker, as the case may be, shall notify the Commission of the vacancy, in writing, as soon as possible after he or she becomes aware of it.
“Upon being notified of a vacancy in terms of subsection (3), the Commission shall without delay – invite the political party in writing to submit the name of a qualified person to fill the vacancy, for which purpose the political party must lodge with the Commission a nomination paper in the prescribed form referred to in section 45E(2), countersigned by any two of the designated national office-bearers of the party referred to in section 38A(1)(a) (or by such other two office-bearers of the political party whom the Commission is satisfied are duly authorised to make the required countersignatures).”