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Opinion / Columnist

Zec must lift ban on by-elections

27 Mar 2021 at 09:26hrs | Views
THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) has lifted the suspension on voter registration and certain "field work" as announced on January 8, 2021. However, the suspension of by-elections remains in place.

The MDC Alliance is deeply concerned with the unconstitutionality of the decision to suspend by-elections.

Section 159 of the Constitution requires vacant elective public offices to be filled within 90 days.

This constitutional imperative has been wholly ignored.

The effective banning of elections follows the unlawful recall of elected representatives from Parliament and local government.

The will of the people continues to be abrogated as Mr (Emmerson) Mnangagwa's regime pursues its one-party State agenda.

We are of the firm view that it is grossly unreasonable to ban by-elections when COVID-19 restrictions continue to be eased throughout the country.

Various electoral activities took place during the strict lockdown, including internal party elections by Zanu-PF and extraordinary congresses by other parties. In the circumstances, there is no justification for the continued ban.

Zec has a constitutional obligation to prepare for, conduct and supervise elections in this country.

They have an additional legal obligation to consult widely before taking decisions on matters that impact electoral democracy.

There is need to hold stakeholder meetings to ensure that there is clarity and input from all key stakeholders on its strategic plan and programming for the year.

Zec last held a consultative meeting in February 2018.

The MDC Alliance has written to Zec requesting a meeting and to date, we have heard no response.

We call for urgent, sincere engagement on these critical issues.

We also reiterate our call for a voter registration blitz.

The number of new registrations since 2018 is negligible, whereas the data suggests that over 600 000 people have reached voting age since the last election.

The law requires the voter registration process to be ongoing.

We are of the firm view that Zec cannot proceed with the delimitation of ward boundaries before the national voters' roll is updated.

The people's right to free, fair and verifiable elections as well as representation of their choice is a central tenet of any constitutional democracy.


Source - newsday
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