Continued Suspension of By-Elections Worries ERC

By Staff Reporter
HARARE – The Election Resource Centre(ERC) continues to bemoan the suspension of by-elections highlighting that the global Covid-19 was not only the pandemic hindering the delivery of credible elections but also the failure to adhere to Constitutional principles.
Electoral activities were suspended in March last year in response to the Covid-19 and in October 2020, Vice President, Constantino Chiwenga who is also the Minister of Health and Child Care announced that no by-elections would be held anytime soon as the country was still grappling and trying to recover from the situation posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
He published Statutory Instrument (SI) 225A of 2020, Public Health COVID-19 Prevention, Containment and Treatment) (Amendment) Regulations, 2020 (No 4), which suspended the holding of by-elections slated for December 5, 2020.
In a statement, ERC said despite the fact that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has made effort to impliment a policy which enable elections to take place under Covid-19, the by-elections remain suspended.
“It has been 11 months since by-elections were suspended under Statutory Instrument 225a of 2020. The Executive suspended the elections taking away the independence of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.
“Despite the ZEC having developed the COVID-19 Policy on Electoral Activities with clear guidelines on how by-elections and other electoral activities would be conducted under COVID19, by-elections have remained illegally suspended.
“Currently, COVID-19 is not the only pandemic affecting the delivery of credible elections. The failure to adhere to constitutional principles that are foundational to credible elections is another pandemic that is threatening democratic principles,”reads part of the statement.
By-elections, ERC said, are a litmus test to ZEC’s preparedness for the 2023 Harmonised elections therefore responsible authorities must ensure that when by-elections are conducted, they are conducted in a transparent, accountable and credible manner that boosts the confidence of electoral stakeholders.
“It is worrisome that citizens are currently unrepresented in Parliament and Local Authorities. Section 1 of the Constitution states that Zimbabwe is a unitary, democratic and sovereign republic and is bound by principles of good governance which include free, fair and regular elections according to Section 2 (b) (ii),” ERC further stated.
In line with the above, the ERC has therefore called upon President Emmerson Mnangagwa to undertake his mandate of proclaiming by-elections since there is no court order setting aside the elections.
The organisation also stressed that the resumption of by-elections must be preceded by the implementation of electoral reforms as by-elections without reforms pose a threat to the credibility and acceptability of electoral outcomes

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