Source: ‘Use by-elections as 2023 test run’ – NewsDay Zimbabwe

BY BLESSED MHLANGA

THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) has been urged to hold by-elections so that there can be a test run for the 2023 general elections which are likely to be conducted under COVID-19 restrictions.

This was said yesterday by the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) in a statement where it said holding of by-elections would strengthen Zec’s preparedness for the forthcoming polls.

“Given the possibility of the next harmonised elections being held amid COVID-19, the government may need to consider the holding of elections during the pandemic, starting with the by-elections, with COVID-19 prevention measures enforced throughout the electoral processes. This is particularly so in view of the fact that Zec developed a policy on how to conduct elections,” Zesn said.

“The prolonged period which some wards and constituencies have gone without representation does not augur well for democracy . . . other sectors such as education have opened up, with resumption of activity in schools and institutions of higher learning.”

About 26 parliamentary seats are vacant.  The vacancies were caused by the recall of more than 40 Members of Parliament and 80 councillors affiliated to the MDC Alliance led by Nelson Chamisa.

The MDC-T led by Douglas Mwonzora has since replaced 15 proportional representation seats with its party members.

The affected constituencies have clocked more than one year without representation due to the country’s failure to hold by-elections.

Vice-President and Health minister Constantino Chiwenga issued Statutory Instrument 225 of 2020, which indefinitely suspended by-elections, citing COVID-19 restrictions.

But World Health Organisation (WHO) announced that it was safe for countries to hold elections. Several countries in the world have successfully held elections during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Zesn said the prolonged absence of representatives was not good for democracy and urged that elections should be held given that government had opened businesses, schools and other sectors.

Despite the ban, Zanu PF has, however, conducted its own internal elections.

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