By Nyashadzashe Ndoro | Nehanda Politics |
HARARE- The United States government has warned President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government against continuing to suspend by-elections citing that this deprives citizens of their right to representation.
Government through Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, who doubles as health minister, last year issued a Statutory Instrument 225A of 2020 and suspended by-elections indefinitely citing the surge in the Covid-19 threat.
Despite countries like the United States, Malawi, Zambia and others holding elections during the pandemic, Zimbabwean authorities have continued their ban on elections. Civil society groups also tried in vain, several times to lobby the government to allow elections.
In a statement on Twitter the US Embassy in Harare urged the government to allow by-elections and restore leaders in constituencies without representatives both in Parliament and council.
“When will the Zimbabwean government resume by-elections? Long-standing parliamentary vacancies have left over 754,000 voters in 26 constituencies without elected representation. Only by-elections will restore these citizens’ rights to representation. #ZimVotesMatter
“Many countries have held elections despite the pandemic, including Zambia, South Africa, Malawi, and the United States, demonstrating that COVID-safe elections are possible. We are confident Zimbabwe can do the same. #ZimsSafetoVote #ZimVotesMatter,” the US government said.
But information permanent secretary Nick Mangwana responded saying the US Embassy had not followed diplomatic channels to address the issue.
“Surely, the US Embassy knows where the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is located. Should there be a need for a conversation on this subject you can easily engage them and get a briefing. These highly inflammatory tweets are as disrespectful as they are unnecessary,” he said.
Two weeks ago, The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, a group of civil society groups petitioned the Southern African Development Community (SADC) accusing the government of using Covid-19 as an excuse 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 part of the petition. Nehanda Radio