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 (ZEC). 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.
By-elections are a litmus test to ZEC’s preparedness for the 2023 harmonised elections. 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.
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.
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). The ERC, therefore, calls for President Emmerson Mnangagwa to undertake his mandate of proclaiming by-elections since there is no court order setting aside the elections.
Conclusively, 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.
Source: Election Resource Centre