By Desmond Chingarande
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) has suspended all electoral activities in a move analysts described as a way of aiding Thokozani Khupe’s MDC-T to appoint its legislators without going through by-elections where they are likely to face a humiliating defeat to Nelson Chamisa’s MDC Alliance.
The suspension of electoral activities citing COVID-19 regulations came after Khupe has recalled four MDC Alliance MPs following a Supreme Court ruling declaring her the acting leader of the MDC-T.
In a statement yesterday, Zec chief elections officer Utoile Silaigwana said the suspension of elections was done in accordance with the COVID-19 measures announced by President Emmerson Mnangagwa to curb the spread of the pandemic.
“Following the suspension of all electoral activities by Zec in response to measures announced by President Emmerson Mnangagwa to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent review of the level one lockdown to level two, the commission will conduct activities that do not violate lockdown measures using skeletal staff,” Silaigwana said.
He further said this was in line with a COVID-19 electoral practice policy that is being finalised by the commission, whose finer details will be announced soon.
Silaigwana said the commission was also working on the policy that would guide electoral staff, the electorate and other stakeholders on how to conduct themselves before, during and after electoral processes to prevent health risks.
He also disclosed that they were working on an electoral policy that would consider filling vacant constituencies with party nominees according to proportional representation.
“We could not continue having gatherings of people and we cannot do elections remotely, so we are looking at policy changes to accommodate post-filling just like what is done on proportional representations and senatorial positions,” Silaigwana said.
“As you are aware, the proclamation by the President to combat the spread of the virus (is in place), we don’t play politics.
“The elections are suspended due to the spread of COVID-19 and this is in the interests of safety of all stakeholders. But MDC Alliance vice-chairperson Job Sikhala said they would monitor the events and see how the issue of appointments would be supported by the Constitution.
“It is not supported by the Constitution or sustainable in a democracy. In the circumstances of COVID-19, it could not be sustained in the aftermath of the pandemic. We will monitor the events and see where it will end,” Sikhala said.
Former Information deputy minister Energy Mutodi once hinted that parliamentary by-elections to replace MDC Alliance MPs who were expelled from Parliament last month would be scrapped to accommodate MDC-T nominees. NewsDay