Election advocacy group, Election Resource Centre (ERC) has reiterated its calls for the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to obtain a Court order in order to postpone by-elections in accordance with the law.
Last year, the government through Vice-President and Health minister Constantino Chiwenga indefinitely, suspended by-elections in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.
The call by ERC follows remarks by ZEC deputy chair Commissioner Emmanuel Magade who recently said the Commission will conduct by-elections only after the imposed suspension is lifted.
“The ERC insists that the Commission should pursue a court order to postpone by-elections and should execute its mandate independent of the Executive. The administration of by-elections does not fall under the purview of the Commission alone,”
“To ensure compliance, the Commission must recommend that the President proclaim by-elections or the Commission seek a court order to postpone the conduct of by-elections and give a timeline to the suspension,”
“Currently, the President is in violation of the law. Consequently, the President and ZEC must seek a court order postponing the proclamation of by-elections. It is ERC’s contention that utterances made by Mr Magade puts the Commission at the disposal of the Executive. This puts to question the capacity of the Commission to act independently without external influence as stated by the law.” ERC said.
The election advocacy group urged ZEC to consult with stakeholders on matters to do with the conduct of elections during this time.
“Due to the COVID19 global pandemic, the Commission must extensively consult with medical experts, political parties, CSO’s and ordinary citizens on whether to conduct by-elections. The Commission should collect evidence and ascertain whether to conduct by- elections or to suspend. Should the evidence indicate a risk in administering by- elections under the Covid19 pandemic, the Commission can thus seek a court order to suspend by-elections, as witnessed in South Africa.
“By-elections present the Commission with an opportunity to test electoral reforms. ZEC should invest in actively pursuing long outstanding administrative reforms, a position already adopted by the Government and awaiting operationalization.” noted ERC