The number of constituencies without representation in Parliament has risen to 34 as more MPs and senators died while others were fired by their political parties.
In an interview with NewsDay last Friday, Clerk of Parliament Austin Zvoma said the fact that by-elections had not been held had nothing to do with Parliament as the institution had played its part. “Parliament has already done its part by giving notice that the seats are vacant. However, it is not part of the duties of Parliament to announce by-elections,” Zvoma said.
Parliament recently lost Mabutweni Senator Gladys Dube, Masotsha Ndlovu Senator Enna Chitsa and non-constituency Senator Tichaona Mudzingwa (all MDC-T).
The House of Assembly has also lost Mount Darwin East MP Betty Chikava and Shamva South MP Kingstone Ziteya (both Zanu PF).
According to the Electoral Act, President Robert Mugabe should within 14 days after being notified of a vacancy in Parliament, publish a notice in the Government Gazette ordering a new election to fill the vacancy. However, no by-elections have been held to date and observers believe this could stifle progress in the affected areas which do not have representation.
Activist Blessing Ivan Vava said: “What it means is that people from the affected constituencies have been deprived of having their issues being heard in Parliament due to lack of representation.
However, one can also argue that people were not benefiting from their MPs as some of them have been fingered in misuse of funds meant to develop constituencies (Constituency Development Funds).” Silobela MP Anadi Sululu (MDC-T) said it was imperative that the vacant seats were filled as constituents suffered without representation.
“The affected constituencies will miss inputs and also vital information from Parliament. It stalls progress and this can be likened to a class without a teacher. It would be better to appoint an acting MP for the affected constituencies than to leave them without representation,” said Sululu.