Government under pressure over by-elections

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PRESSURE is mounting on the government over the holding of by-elections as more citizens are appealing for the
High Court’s intervention for the electoral process to be authorised.
This comes as the byelections were suspended after the government gazetted a statutory instrument, which
indefinitely suspended the holding of by-elections, citing the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

Last week, a group of female voters, including Ellah Tayengwa, Moud Chinyerere, Agnes Togarepi, Gracious
Matsunga, David Gwanzura, Loice Gwangwara, Women’s Academy for Leadership and Political Excellence and
Election Resource Centre, sued President Emmerson Mnangagwa over the matter.

The case is yet to be heard. In the latest application, Enock Mukudu, a resident of ward 30 in Harare, who claims
that they have gone for months without a councillor following recalls of MDC Alliance local authorities’ representatives, filed another application.

He cited Health minister and Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and
Attorney-General Prince Machaya as respondents and wants the statutory instrument declared unconstitutional and nullified.

Mukudu argued that the Constitution stipulated that by-elections ought to be held within 90 days after vacancies
would have arisen.

“The only exception to that right is when the vacancies occur nine months before the general election.
“It is my humble submission that the first respondent’s actions was a serious breach of the rights of the generality of Zimbabweans to elect their representatives in both parliament and local authorities. In my case, my councillor
in ward 30 was recalled and we do not have one to date,” he said.

Mukudu argued that measures which were already in place to curb the spread of Covid-19 were sufficient to
ensure that by-elections are held.

“Political parties are holding primary elections; both MDC Alliance and Zanu PF are carrying out their political
activities in conformity with Covid-19 regulations. “It is unreasonable to suspend the holding of byelections while allowing other political gatherings and primary elections,” added Mukudu.

“It is my humble submission that people can exercise preventive measures like social distancing, wearing face
masks to prevent the spread of Covid-19 …”

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