THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has lifted the suspension of electoral activities, with immediate effect, paving way for the holding of the many Parliamentary and local council by-elections with the commission applying procedures to reduce the risk of Covid-19 infection.
In June, ZEC suspended electoral activities as part of measures to curb the spread of Covid-19.
“Electoral activities had been temporarily suspended as the country battled to contain the spread of COVID-19”.
The commission recently announced that there were 15 vacancies in Parliament that needed to be filled through by-elections following National Assembly recalls by the MDC-T.
While the proportional representation seats in the Assembly and the Senate vacancies are filled by direct nomination in a different process, the constituency seats and the vacancies in local authorities, with Harare City Council having the most, have to be filled by voters in by-elections
Some Parliamentarians and local councillors have also died and should be replaced through holding of by-elections.
ZEC Chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba, all necessary and prescribed health measures to curb the spread of the virus will be monitored as electoral activities take place.
In a statement ZEC chairperson, Justice Priscilla Chigumba said the lifting of the suspension on electoral activities is in line with the Covid-19 policy that has been adopted by the commission.
“The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission would like to inform the public that it has lifted with immediate effect the suspension of electoral activities following measures taken by Government to curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Electoral timelines for all the pending by-elections will be published in the press through notices in due course,” said Justice Chigumba.
“The lifting follows a cautionary observation of the pandemic’s trends and subsequent adoption of health safety measures including the drafting and operationalisation of a Covid-19 policy on electoral activities by the commission whose contents were open to stakeholders’ contribution.
The Covid-19 policy on electoral activities which outlines how by-elections and other electoral activities will be conducted without exposing those involved to health risks is now on the ZEC website www.zec.org.zw for the public.”
In the health policy, members of the public will be allowed to bring their pens when coming to cast their votes.
ZEC will disinfect electoral materials such as pens for those who will not carry theirs. Mandatory temperature tests, wearing of masks and sanitisation of hands will be required for all people entering ZEC premises.
Zanu PF acting national spokesperson, Cde Patrick Chinamasa said: “We will contest all vacancies in the by-elections with the aim of winning them to Zanu PF whether they are through recalls because of problems in the MDC-T or through deaths.”
MDC-T Secretary general Mr Douglas Mwonzora said: “Of course, we are going to be contesting elections.”
MDC-Alliance deputy national spokesperson, Mr Felix Mafa Sibanda, said the by-elections will not change anything if there are no reforms.
Some constituencies in the country have been left vacant due to rivalry wars in the MDC party as the Dr Thokozani Khupe-led faction has recalled 13 legislators aligned to MDC-Alliance leader Mr Nelson Chamisa this year.
Vacancies arose in line with Section 39 (1) of the Electoral Act (Chapter 2:13) as amended.
The recalled legislators are Messrs Amos Chibaya (Mkoba), Murisi Zwizwai (Harare Central), Happymore Chidziva (Highfield West), Prosper Mutseyami (Dangamvura), Charlton Hwende (Kuwadzana East).
Others are Proportionate Representatives Bacilia Majaya, Macharairwa Mugidho, Virginia Muradzikwa, Annah Myambo, Francisca Ncube, Nomathemba Ndlovu, Thabitha Khumalo (proportional representation) and Senator Lillian Timveos (Midlands).
The recalls were pursuant to Section 129 (k) of the Constitution.
It states as follows: “The seat of a Member of Parliament becomes vacant if the Member has ceased to belong to the political party of which he or she was a member when elected to Parliament and the political party concerned, by written notice to the Speaker or the President of the Senate, as the case may be, has declared that the Member has ceased to belong to it.”