Proposed By-elections Date too Far: Stakeholders

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC)’s proposed date for the by-elections to fill in 28 vacancies in Parliament and 105 in Councils some of which have been there since last year, is not feasible, stakeholders in Bulawayo have said.

In its draft electoral roadmap, ZEC has proposed that the polls which the government had all along been avoiding citing Covid-19 be held on 23 April next year. Most of the positions fell vacant following a recall of legislators and councillors by the now Douglas Mwonzora-led MDCT as the battle for the control of the Nelson Chamisa-led MDC Alliance between the two factions intensified.

Despite the country’s laws providing for by-elections to fill in vacant positions in both the august House and local authorities, the government has used the pandemic as a delaying tactic, something that has been criticised by civic society organisations and the international community.

Citizens who spoke to CITE Wednesday said the proposed date for the by-elections is still too far considering the elections are now long overdue. “We have had these vacant posts for too long,” Said Ngqabutho Sibanda, a final year Actuarial Science student at the National University of Science and Technology (NUST).

“Communities are affected by that because these MPs have a mandate to do in the communities. Why are they not replaced? I feel like there is a lot of politics involved behind ZEC and I feel like ZEC is captured. It’s a good thing that ZEC has proposed an election date but this is long overdue,” said Vusumuzi Chirwa, a Bulawayo resident.

“If we have accepted the so-called new normal brought about by Covid-19, we must find ways of voting normally under the new normal because Covid-19 can never be a valid excuse not to have elections.” He added that the electorate has been short-changed by the recalling of their sitting representatives.

Political analyst, Effie Ncube, said the delays were an indication that ZANU-PF is afraid of the people and the vote of no confidence that is going to come from the people.

“Whatever election is going to be held, be it a by-election or general election it is going to be a referendum on the track record of ZANU-PF, a dictatorship that has destroyed the country over the past four decades. So it isn’t surprising to anyone that ZANU-PF would want to keep elections away from the people.”

He urged Zimbabweans to go in their numbers and be heard once by-elections are finally held and vote against corruption, abuse of power, against the absence of rule of law and human rights abuses.

Source: Centre for Innovation and Technology

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