By Nqobile Tshili
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) has with immediate effect lifted the suspension of electoral activities paving way for holding of by-elections.
In June, Zec suspended electoral activities as part of measures to curb the spread of Covid-19.
The commission recently announced that there were 15 vacancies in Parliament that needed to be filled following National Assembly and Senate recalls by the MDC-T.
Some Parliamentarians have also died and should be replaced through holding of by-elections.
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 also states that it will disinfect electoral materials such as pens for those who will use its materials.
Mandatory temperature tests, wearing of masks and sanitisation of hands will be required for all people entering the Zec premises.
“The commission is appealing to stakeholders to strictly adhere to the policy in order to curb the spread of the Covid-19 disease which is still highly contagious,” said Justice Chigumba.
Zec chief elections officer Mr Utoile Silaigwana said there are 16 vacancies in both the Senate and National Assembly following deaths and expulsion of legislators.
He said the mentioned vacancies are for they had been notified about by Parliament and Ministry of Local Government and Public Works.
“At the moment we have received notification of seven vacancies in the National Assembly of which six are through expulsion by their party and one through death. The death is that of Kwekwe’s Masango Matambanadzo. In the Senate there are nine vacancies and in local authorities we have 23 vacancies which have occurred through expulsions and deaths,” said Mr Silaigwana.
He said the public should take note that some vacancies will not be filled through by-elections as individual parties will replace them in the case of Proportional Representation MPs and Senators.
Zanu-PF acting national spokesperson Cde Patrick Chinamasa, said the ruling party will contest all the seats and is confident of victory.
“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. We will contest with a view of winning them and I know we will win them,” said Cde Chinamasa.
MDC-T Secretary general Mr Douglas Mwonzora said his party has expelled more than 10 Parliamentarians but did not have the exact number.
“Of course, we are going to be contesting elections. We were formed to be contesting elections. We recalled people on the basis that they had ceased to be members of our party and for no other reason.
“Those people are free to contest, face the electorate and seek the votes of the electorate. We will also field candidates. What we have seen on social media is that people have been writing us off, they must not write us off yet,” said Mr Mwonzora.
MDC-Alliance deputy national spokesperson Mr Felix Mafa Sibanda said there was nothing to celebrate in the lifting of the freeze on electoral activities.
“The by-elections will be meaningless. They will not change anything as long as there are no reforms. Instead of holding by-elections, funds should be channelled towards improving people’s welfare,” said Mr Sibanda. The Chronicle