The Electoral Amendment Bill, which seeks to relax
registration requirements for voters ahead of next year’s harmonised elections
and amend several provisions of the main Act to bring it to conformity with the
Constitution, was gazetted on Friday.
Registration is now easier since potential voters just need
to give their address without providing documentary back-up.
When voters were required to produce proof of residence to
register to vote, some tenants not paying the primary rates would face
challenges in acquiring the proof of residence from landlords who either did
not want to be bothered or simply did not want to admit they had a tenant.
The Bill confirms that a driver’s licence cannot be used as
identification, voters needing to produce the national ID card or a valid
passport to prove identity.
The driver’s licence is issued by the Central Vehicle
Registry while the other two documents are official documents from the
Registrar General and the civil registry offices.
The new law will also provide the timeframe within which
national assembly and local authority candidates can withdraw from contesting
in an election and also provide for the incorporation of the 30 percent women’s
quota and the youth quota.
It is envisaged that once the Bill is enacted into law, it
will assist in ensuring that only citizens are able to vote in an election,
that proper candidates are allowed to contest in an election, providing clarity
on when and how a candidate can withdraw their candidature in an election so as
to afford ZEC sufficient time to make changes to the design of the ballot and
advising the electorate of any changes to the candidature in an election.
Section 45C of the Act, which deals with allocation of
party-list seats and disqualification of votes for purposes of party-list
elections, also brings into effect Constitutional amendments that reserve seats
for youth members and the election of candidates to the middle tier of
Each of the 10 electoral provinces will have elected by
proportional representative six seats in the Senate, six seats reserved for
women in the National Assembly, one seat reserved for a youth aged from 21 to
35 in the National Assembly.
The party lists for senators for each province must
alternate, in terms of existing law, between men and women, with a woman in the
Besides the central Parliament, the harmonised election
will also generate the distribution of 10 seats in provincial councils for the
eight non-metropolitan councils. According to the envisaged law, in every
electoral province there shall be elected by indirect proportional
representation one youth member, that is, a person aged 21 to 35.
The Bill also lays down the details for using the vote in
each ward to elect the councillor representing that ward to generate the 30
percent additional women councillors to be elected by indirect proportional
representation as now laid down in the Constitution.
As 30 percent only gives a whole number when the number of
councillors is a multiple of 10, the Bill gives the formula for rounding down
when a fraction is under half, and rounding up to the nearest whole number when
it is half or more.
The problem of candidates withdrawing is being amended.
Candidates can withdraw before 21 days before the poll or first day of multiple
days of voting. That gives the commission time to modify the design of the
After that a candidate’s name remains on the ballot paper,
even if they drive around begging people not to vote for them.
Withdrawals have to be in writing and sent to the Chief
Elections Officer. Herald