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By-elections still banned – ‘We’re not bound by WHO advice’ – Ziyambi

By Nyashadzashe Ndoro

Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi insists Zimbabwe is still in a state of emergency and cannot hold by-elections despite the World Health Organisation (WHO) saying it was possible to hold elections as long as the necessary Covid-19 protocols and safeguards were followed.

Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi
Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi

Ziyambi during the question and answer session in the National Assembly said the decision by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government, through health minister Constantino Chiwenga to ban by-elections which were scheduled for December 5 was constitutional.

Chiwenga banned the by-elections citing the thread from Covid-19. His decision became controversial after realising that some internal party elections were allowed to go on.

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Zanu PF is currently preparing for District Coordinating Committee (DCC) elections, the opposition MDC Alliance recently held its primary election to replace late Kuwadzana MP Miriam Mushayi and the smaller faction of the opposition, the MDC-T is preparing for its own congress.

But WHO had recommended that by-elections could still be held as long as Covid-19 regulations were to be followed.

Ziyamba said; the opinion of WHO is perfectly okay as an authority. As a country, we will establish how that is applicable in our environment. We have a state of emergency and several Statutory Instruments were issued to control the pandemic, including one that deals with by-elections.

“Once we feel that the situation has normalised we will lift the suspension. Let us remember that we have a curfew and if we proceed with those by-elections, we will criminalise a lot of people (for moving at night).

“When we make regulations, we do so in terms of the enabling legislation. When advice is given by international organisations, we analyse it to see how it is applicable in our environment. We cannot endanger our people; we cannot expose our people,” Ziyambi said.

Observers argued that the decision to suspend by-elections was meant to ensure that the MDC Alliance does not recover seats from areas where their MPs were recalled by the rival MDC-T.

MDC-T acting president Thokozani Khupe and Douglas Mwonzora have already recalled more than 35 MDC Alliance MPs, Councillors and Senators accusing them of supporting MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa. Nehanda Radio