Suspected MDC Alliance youths have staged a flash demo outside the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission offices demanding by-elections “now, now”.
ZEC has suspended by elections since last year, citing Covid-19 public health emergency.
Protesters have left a message at the gates of the ZEC in Harare while demanding the holding of by-elections to fill vacant seats in local authorities and parliament.
#FLASHDEMO Protesters have left a message at the gates of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission in Harare while demanding the holding of by-elections to fill vacant seats in local authorities and parliament. ZEC has suspended all elections citing Covid-19 concerns pic.twitter.com/oL46e7nqrb
— ZimLive (@zimlive) February 12, 2021
On the 25th March 2020, the Chairperson of ZEC, Judge Priscilla Chigumba, announced the suspension of all electoral activities.
She said that in view of the President’s declaration of the global coronavirus as a national disaster all electoral activities would be suspended until further notice.
Her statement was made with reference to an upcoming by-election in Ward 16 of the Chiredzi Rural District Council which was scheduled for the 4th April 2020, but it applies to parliamentary as well as local authority by-elections.
Her statement was confirmed by ZEC’s Chief Elections Officer on the 9th May, who said that all pending by-elections had been suspended in view of the pandemic.
The suspension caused debate, with some saying it was not lawful.
According to constitutional watchdog, Veritas Zimbabwe, ZEC may not have lawfully suspended electoral activities until the Covid-19 epidemic is over.
“Our conclusion is that ZEC probably acted unlawfully when it suspended all electoral activities until the end of the Covid-19 epidemic.
“Even if the suspension was legally correct, we think that ZEC went about it the wrong way.
“The chairperson announced it, presumably with the approval of her fellow commissioners, but her announcement was not followed up with an official notice in the Gazette or a newspaper.
“And, so far as we are aware, before announcing the suspension she did not consult all the political parties likely to be affected by it.
“What ZEC should have done, in our view, was to apply to the Electoral Court for an order declaring that in view of the Covid-19 epidemic it would be lawful to suspend all electoral activity until the danger had passed.
“If ZEC had done that, the court could have clarified the legal position after giving all parties an opportunity to express their views,” noted Veritas.
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