The seat of the Member of Parliament for Mutoko North became vacant for the reason that the elected Member of Parliament during the 2018 harmonized election, Marble Chinomona was elected as President of the Senate in Parliament. In terms of Section 129(1) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, the seat becomes vacant upon the Member becoming President of the Senate. President Mnangagwa then proclaimed 24 November as the day on which a poll was to be conducted.
For purposes of observing the by-election, ERC partnered with a Mutoko based organization Youth Initiatives in Community Development (YICD). A mobile team was deployed on the election day to observe the process and citizens reports were received through the call centre.
The constituency was characterized by a peaceful atmosphere which is highly commendable. The deployed team did not encounter any cases of violence. The constituency is a ZANU PF stronghold. However, there were cases of intimidation which were reported through the call centre whereby some villagers in Ward 4 were intimidated by ZANU PF supporters not to vote for the opposition party as they risk losing their property.
The Nomination Court sat on the 12th of October for the purpose of receiving nominations of candidates for the by-election. Three candidates successfully filed their applications to contest in the by-election and these are:
- Mugoma Edson (NCA)
- Mushore Boniface (MDC Alliance)
- Nyabote Rambidzai (ZANU PF)
Voter education in the constituency commenced on the 12th of November which was two weeks before polling day. For the 11 wards in Mutoko North, 4 voter educators were deployed per ward by ZEC. ZEC collaborated with Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in conducting voter education. Some Polling Station Officers participated in voter education.
Contrary to the legal provisions that voter registration must be a continuous process, voter registration was not conducted. On the voters’ roll provided by ZEC, a total of 23 272 aspiring voters were registered, 13 056 were female and 10 216 were male.
ERC noted that ZEC did not administer postal voting to persons who qualified for postal voting as no invitations were publicly issued for citizens to apply for postal voting. All legal provisions should be followed in the administration of elections without exception.
Disbursement of ballot papers
Ballot Papers used during the by-election were disbursed upon deployment of Polling Officials on Wednesday 21st of November while some were disbursed on the 22nd of November. According to Section 52A (2), ZEC has to provide where the ballot papers were printed and by who, total number of printed ballot papers for the election and the number of ballot papers distributed to each polling station. Upon request, ZEC failed to avail the register of printed ballot papers and distributed ballot papers. The Constituency Election Officer stated that ballot papers were delivered according to voter population per polling station. For the by-election, ZEC distributed a contingency of 50 ballot papers per polling station which is a violation of Section 52A (1) of the Electoral Act which states that the Commission has to ensure that the number of ballot papers printed for any election does not exceed by more than 10 percent the number of registered voters eligible to vote in the election.
Most polling stations were open by 7am which is the stipulated time by the law. Casting of votes proceeded smoothly at most polling stations with minimal disruptions and short queues at most polling stations. The morning voting process has been characterized by mainly elderly people casting their ballots whereas the youths are casting their ballots in low numbers.
Source: Election Resource Centre