It’s High Time: The Ban On By-Elections Should Be Lifted

The Zimbabwe Rural Youth Development (ZRYD) has called for the uplifting of the ban on by-elections citing that several jurisdictions in Africa and beyond have managed to successfully hold elections during the pandemic. ZRYD argues that since the government has eased most lockdown measures it is possible for the ban on by-elections to be uplifted so that citizens can exercise their democratic rights to choose their representatives. Read on to get the full statement.

Legal framework for the ban of by-elections

Statutory Instrument 225A of 2020 guides the suspension of the conduct of byelections in Zimbabwe. On the second of October 2020, Zimbabwe’s vice president and health minister Constantino Chiwenga amended the Public Health Regulations and suspended all by-elections that ZEC had scheduled for the 5th of December of the same year. Unconstitutional as it was, this was however, necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic. All parliamentary and council by-elections were therefore shelved. This stance was not peerless and unique to Zimbabwe alone. Since evidence indicated that the risk for administering by-elections under the Covid-19 pandemic outweighed the benefits, a number of countries; globally, shelved elections, Zimbabwe included, to concentrate on fighting the pandemic, containing its spread and ultimately save lives.

Is Covid-19 still rearing its ugly head to warrant blanket restrictions?

With the easing of the pandemic, most countries have gone back to the drawing board to accord people their democratic right to elect own representatives. Unfortunately, Zimbabwe has not yet lifted the ban on conduct of by-elections. This is regardless of easing most of the regulations and restrictions once imposed during the height of the pandemic. Many lockdown measures have been eased in recent months, and the government has even held face to face public consultations, suggesting that some activities can now resume with health precautions in place.

List of African countries that conducted elections in the midst of the pandemic

From 2020, several countries globally, have resumed elections. A number of African countries have too managed to conduct elections in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. South Africa, hardest hit when compared to Zimbabwe will conduct Municipal Elections on the 1st of November 2021. People are going to be accorded their democratic right to choose leaders. Zimbabwe should therefore learn from experiences of others on how elections can be conducted in the midst of a pandemic. Below is a list of African countries that conducted elections amidst the pandemic.

Read the full report here (435KB PDF)

Source: Zimbabwe Rural Youth Development Initiative

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