GECOM is not treated as a major stakeholder in the electoral reform process

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Dear Editor,

On Oct 29, 2001 it was reported that the President directed that the draft amendments of the electoral laws should be released for feedback from stakeholders. This is commendable. Responsiveness is one of the three pillars of Democracy, the other two being representation and responsibility conduct of public affairs.

The release of the draft provides an opportunity for the stakeholders to comment and made suggestions, however the adherence to Responsiveness requires that the responses be taken into consideration. If that is not done Responsiveness would not have been realized.

I write this letter because I harbour the fear that Responsiveness may not be intended or realised for the following reasons.

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1. GECOM is the agency that has the mandate for the conduct of elections and will be the object of much of the envisaged amendments, yet the process has gotten to the stage of a draft amendment and GECOM has in no way being involved.

2. The President`s directive was issued on Oct 29. The draft was released on November 6, however on November 10 when I last checked with the GECOM Secretariat, it had still not received a copy of the draft which had, four days prior, been released for public scrutiny.

I am therefore left with no alternative but to make the following observations.

1. The draft originates from the Attorney-General`s Chamber and reflects the thinking of the Government and the Party which occupies the seat of Government.

2. In the process of consulting, on the draft, GECOM is not treated as or deemed to be a major stakeholder, rather it is apparently being treated as a tool of the ‘powers that be’ rather than an agency constitutionally responsible for the conduct of elections.

3. This flies in the face of GECOM`s constitutional responsibility, and the Governance principle: Inclusivity/Participation, although our Constitution, in article 13, enshrines that principle, and the State finances an entire ministerial position with responsibility for Governance.

It begs the questions: are we in for another charade, even as we tout Democracy and Good Governance? Is the publicly articulated mantra the “Opposition gets its say and the Government gets its way” the Government`s understanding and practice of Democracy and Good Governance?

Yours truly,
Vincent Alexander



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