By Nyashadzashe Ndoro | Nehanda Politics |
HARARE- The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has been petitioned by civil society groups over the ‘insincere’ refusal to hold by-elections by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration.
Government through Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, who doubles as health minister, suspended by-elections indefinitely citing the Covid-19 threat, last year October. This was effected by a Statutory Instrument 225A of 2020.
Civil society groups tried in vain, several times to lobby the Zimbabwean government to allow elections, taking note that many countries around the world managed to hold elections regardless of the pandemic. These countries include but are not limited to the United States, Malawi and recently Zambia.
The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, a group of civil society groups in the country wrote a letter to SADC referencing the “shrinking of democratic space in Zimbabwe”. It accused the government of using Covid-19 as a launchpad of avoiding the holding of by-elections when other countries are doing so.
“The government of Zimbabwe keeps on ‘refusing’ to hold by-elections on the excuse of Covid-19 or budgetary constants. This amounts to an unreasonable usurpation of the universal suffrage right of Zimbabweans,” read a petition dated September 8.
“If other countries like Malawi, Zambia and very soon South Africa, are following their constitutions in giving the governance of their countries to the hands of their citizens, why would Zimbabwe fail to organise and hold by-elections according to the law?”
This comes at a time when the main opposition MDC Alliance lost more than half of its legislators, MPs and councilors to recalls by the smaller MDC-T party led by Douglas Mwonzora and Thokozani Khupe who accused the MPs of supporting their leader Nelson Chamisa.
The MDC-T got the powers to recall opposition MPs from a controversial Supreme Court ruling that declared Chamisa’s leadership illegitimate and instructed the party to go for an extraordinary congress through the 2014 structures. This is despite the fact that these MPs contested the last election under the MDC Alliance ticket.
The suspension of by-elections means that there are some constituencies that have run for a year without representatives.
Zimbabwe is set to hold its harmonised election in 2023. In the 2018 election, Chamisa was narrowly and controversially defeated by Mnangagwa, winning 44,3% of the vote to his 50,8%. Nehanda Radio