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Understanding by-elections

In most general terms by-elections are defined as a special election held between general elections to fill a vacancy, as for a parliamentary seat.

Parliamentary by-elections take place when a seat in the House of Assembly becomes vacant between general elections.

Reasons for by-elections

A seat becomes vacant during the lifetime of a Parliament either when an MP resigns from Parliament, for example to take up a job which by law cannot be done by an MP, or because an MP has died.

This is the case with the Parliamentary by-election held in the Chirumhanzu Zibagwe and Mt Darwin constituency when Mnangagwa assumed the Vice President post. The two seats fell vacant following the appointment of Joice Mujuru and Emmerson Mnangagwa to the Office of Vice-President.

These by-elections followed the declaration of two vacancies in the National Assembly, which arose by operation of law, in terms of section 129(1) (c.) of the Constitution. This provision requires that an MP’s seat becomes vacant when he or she is appointed as Vice President

By-election timetable 

Section 158 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe demands that parliamentary by-elections be held within 90 days of a vacancy arising. President Mugabe has proclaimed June 10, 2015, as the date for by-elections in 14 parliamentary seats that fell vacant after MDC-T recalled 21 legislators who joined the MDC renewal team.

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Section 159 (b)of the constitution says whenever a vacancy occurs in any elective public office established in terms of this constitution other than an office to which section 158 applies, the authority charged with organising elections to that body must cause an election to be held within ninety days to fill the vacancy.

The expelled and their constituencies

The 17 former MDC-T members that were expelled from the National Assembly are Tendai Biti (Harare East), Willias Madzimure (Kambuzuma), Lucia Matibenga (Kuwadzana East), Paul Madzore (Glen View), Reggie Moyo (Luveve), Solomon Madzore (Dzivarasekwa), Bekithemba Nyathi (Mpopoma Pelandaba), Albert Mhlanga (Pumula), Moses Manyengavana (Highfield West), Samuel Sipepa Nkomo (Lobengula), Roseline Nkomo (Tsholotsho North), Settlement Chikwinya (Mbizo), Gorden Moyo (Makokoba) and Arnold Tsunga (Chikanga Dangamvura).

However, MDC-T will nominate people to fill the other seven seats which are exempted from by-elections as they were won through the proportional representation system using the party’s share of the vote in the 2013 harmonised elections.

Who is eligible to vote in by elections?

Section 155(2) (a) stipulates that all eligible that is to say the citizens qualified under the Forth Schedule are registered as voters.

(b) Every citizen who is eligible to vote in an election or referendum has an opportunity to cast a vote.

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This implies that all registered voters are by law allowed to cast their votes during by elections.

Parties contesting

  • Zanu PF
  • National Constitutional Assembly
  • Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn
  • Freedom Front Party
  • Transform Zimbabwe
  • Free Zimbabwe Congress
  • Progressive Democrats of Zimbabwe
  • African Democratic Party
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Journalist based in Harare

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