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Zec criticised for suspending elections during COVID-19 lockdown period

by Staff reporter
18 Jan 2021 at 06:23hrs | Views
THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) has been blasted for suspending electoral activities in the country during the COVID-19 lockdown period through Press releases without legal authority from a competent court.

This was said by the Elections Resource Centre (ERC) in a statement yesterday where it said the correct procedure was for Zec to seek legal authority to suspend electoral activities through the courts.

The ERC statement comes soon after the country's electoral body suspended electoral activities through a Press release dated January 7, 2021, stating that this will be for the duration of the 30-day national lockdown period which was imposed by Statutory Instrument 10 of 2021.

"While welcoming the efforts of the government in the fight against COVID-19, Zec must be compliant with the law in arriving at any suspension of electoral activities. Constitutionally, Zec is not empowered to continually postpone electoral activities via Press releases. The continued suspension of all electoral activities, devoid of the adherence to laws which qualify the suspension of electoral activities is constitutional defiance," ERC said in the statement.

"Any suspension of electoral activities must be sought by Zec through a court order justifying the continued suspension of electoral activities. The neighbouring Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) of South Africa recently stated that the lockdown restrictions curtailed political activity, imperilling the freeness and fairness of the elections, which forced the IEC to seek the court's approval in postponing by-elections, following consultations with political parties," they said.

The electoral watchdog urged Zec to adhere to international standards and take proactive steps in adequately consulting stakeholders affected by the ongoing suspension of electoral activities to find legal, sustainable solutions to the electoral impasse, brought on by COVID-19.

"Transparency, accountability and credibility should underline all the actions undertaken by Zec. Electoral rights are sacrosanct to principles of democracy and due process ought to be respected when limiting them. ERC urges Zec to take the aforementioned calls," they said.

Source - newsday