By Desmond Chingarande
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) has said it would withdraw its proposal to suspend electoral activities during the COVID-19 lockdown because the pandemic was likely to be long-term.
Zec said the policy document, which was meant to provide guidance on procedures and conduct of electoral activities and processes in a COVID-19 environment, was borne out of the realisation that the pandemic would be with us for some time and was now the “new normal”.
The commission said electoral activities that did not involve direct engagement with the public such as the filling of Proportional Representation (PR) vacancies that occur in Parliament were relevant at the moment.
The policy document came as the MDC-T led by acting president Thokozani Khupe was pushing to replace MDC Alliance PR MPs and senators recalled by her party from Parliament, a move Nelson Chamisa’s party has vowed to fight.
According to the draft policy, voters will bring their pens to mark the ballot papers, inspect the voters roll online and a person whose temperature is lower or higher than the recommended national standard ranges would not be allowed into polling stations.
On the filling in of PR vacancies, Zec will only involve skeletal personnel of the commission, Parliament and political party representatives.
“In the event of a vacancy occurring among the party-list members of the Senate or of the National Assembly, the President of the Senate or the Speaker, as the case may be, shall notify the commission of the vacancy, in writing as soon as possible after he or she becomes aware of it,” the draft reads.
“The commission shall without delay notify the public of the vacancy by notice in the Gazette. Submission of names by political party, the commission shall without delay invite the political party in writing to submit the name of a qualified person to fill the vacancy for which purpose the political party must lodge with the commission a nomination paper in the prescribed form.”
The draft states that if no objection to the party candidate are received and it finds that there are no valid grounds for objection, the commission will gazette the appointments which take effect from the date of the notice. News Day