Parties recommended to observe health protocols

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EDITOR:- The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) shares its Long Term Observers (LTOs) reports on the suspension of elections.

The reporting period was characterised by heightened uncertainty among electoral stakeholders due to conflicting pronouncements by the Zimbabwe Election Commission (ZEC) and the Government with the former lifting the suspension of electoral activities while the latter issued a pronouncement that indefinitely suspended elections, using SI 2020-225A -Public Health (COVID-19 Prevention, Containment and Treatment) (Amendment) Regulations, 2020.

With the ZEC Covid-19 policy complete and the Covid-19 pandemic seemingly at a stage where it is being managed, and Covid-19 regulations being relaxed, it appeared that elections could be held in a manner that observed the necessary health protocols so as to safeguards the health of voters, members of the public, and ZEC personnel.

The Government has even issued pronouncements to underscore this. For instance, in a post cabinet briefing, the Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Monica Mutsvangwa said cases of Covid-19 in Zimbabwe were on a downward trend despite the pronouncements by Government suspending by-elections indefinitely, political parties continue to prepare for the by-elections.

Political parties should ensure that they observe stipulated health protocols for any face to face campaign activities they may engage in during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Parties across the political divide are currently seized with the holding of primary elections in the constituencies were vacancies arose. Campaigns were reportedly being conducted by political parties in various constituencies.

Zanu-PF party and MDC-Alliance are reportedly conducting campaigning activities that include conducted door to door visits and meetings in Constituencies that include Glen View North, Marondera East, Mutoko East, Kwekwe Central and Kuwadzana.

The ruling party was reportedly conducting District Coordinating Committee (DCC) elections preparatory meetings in the following Constituencies; Chipinge Central, Wedza North, Wedza South, Hurungwe Central, Magunje, Zvimba South, Bikita South, Tsholotsho North, Gokwe-Chireya, Gokwe-Kabuyuni, Gokwe-Nembudziya.

The MDC-Alliance was reportedly conducting some party restructuring activities in Gokwe-Kabuyuni Constituency and held primary elections in Kwekwe Central Constituency.

Heightened tensions were reported between the MDC-T and MDC-A supporters over the use of the party offices in Kwekwe Central Constituency while similar reports were made regarding the supporters for the two ZANU-PF candidates aspiring to contest the seat for the same Constituency.

During the reporting period ZESN continued to provide numerous platforms for discussion among electoral stakeholders on a range of issues, as well as enhance public appreciation of key political and electoral developments and their impact on electoral processes.

This week ZESN will conduct a webinar on the suspension of by-elections and its impact on democracy. In previous weeks other webinars were held with the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and with members of the public (to discuss Devolution provisions in the Constitution).

On Radio programmes, this week ZESN will conduct a radio program on the suspension of by elections. In previous weeks the radio programmes focused on the draft comprehensive Electoral Amendment Bill which ZESN submitted to Parliament, and another on the importance of the voter registration process. Virtual meetings with voter education, advocacy for electoral reform, monitoring and observation clusters were also conducted.

The meetings considered the suspension of by-elections and possible joint responses CSOs could undertake, how to conduct material development for electoral education in a collaborative way, and the key issues affecting youths, persons with disabilities and women were also discussed.

ZESN also participated in the webinar hosted by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission which provided an opportunity for ZEC and CSOs to consider effective ways of conducting voter education during the COVID-19 pandemic.

– ZESN

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