By Nyashadzashe Ndoro
The main opposition MDC Alliance has accused Vice president Constantino Chiwenga of infringing on the independence of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) by banning this year’s by-elections.
Chiwenga on Friday, though a Statutory Instrument 225A of 2020, controversially suspended this year’s by-elections citing the Covid-19 threat.
The MDC Alliance said President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s under-fire regime made the “unconstitutional” order to deny MDC Alliance MPs a chance to reclaim their seats.
“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 office to be filled within 90 days.
“This constitutional imperative cannot be overturned by subsidiary legislation as the Constitution is the Supreme Law. The effective banning of elections follows the unlawful recalls of elected representatives from Parliament and Local Government. The will of the people continues to be violated by the illegitimate regime of Mr Mnangagwa.
“We are of the firm view that it is grossly unreasonable to ban by-election when Covid-19 restrictions continue to be eased throughout the country. Various electoral activities are taking place such as internal party elections by Zanu PF and extraordinary congresses by other parties. In the circumstances there is no justification for the ban.
“We are further concerned that the suspension of by-elections infringes upon the independence of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC). ZEC has a constitutional duty to formulate electoral policies without the direction or control of anyone as set in Section 235 of the Constitution.
“The actions of the Minister of Health only serve to undermine ZEC’s independence and to use the excuse of Covid-19 to take away the right of citizens to vote and be represented by people of their choosing in Parliament.
“The MDC Alliance calls for an urgent repeal of SI 225 of 2020 and for comprehensive electoral reforms that pave way for credible elections in accordance with the Constitution,” MDC Alliance said in a statement.
This comes at a time when more than 35 MDC Alliance legislators, Senators and councillors were recalled this year by the Thokozani Khupe led MDC-T party after they were accused of supporting the main opposition MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa.
The MDC-T, through reinstated secretary general Douglas Mwonzora recalled ten MDC Alliance legislators from Parliament, including the main opposition’s Vice president Lynette Karenyi.
Mwonzora and Khupe got the powers to recall from a March Supreme Court ruling that declared Chamisa’s leadership illegitimate and instructed the party to go for an extraordinary congress through the 2014 structures.
Chamisa has since declined to respect the order, arguing that it was influenced by the rival ruling party Zanu PF.
After banning this year’s by-elections, Mnangagwa’s regime installed Khupe as leader of the opposition in Parliament despite the fact that she was rejected by the electorate in the 2018 elections.
In that presidential election Chamisa was narrowly and controversially defeated by Mnangagwa, winning 44,3% of the vote to his 50,8%. But Khupe who came a distant third with 3,42% is being established as leader of the opposition.
Observers have since accused Mnangagwa of working with Khupe and the MDC-T secretary general Douglas Mwonzora to create a one party State led by Zanu PF. Nehanda Radio