BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
LEGISLATIVE watchdog, Veritas, has said the Lupane East by-election will count as yet another failure by government to comply with the country’s Constitution.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa, by proclamation, set August 3 as the day for the by-election to fill the Lupane East National Assembly seat that fell vacant following the death of Zanu PF legislator, Sithembile Gumbo in April.
Gumbo died on April 5 at United Bulawayo Hospitals from injuries sustained in a road accident. However, Veritas said the Constitution stipulates that all by-elections be held within 90 days of the vacancy occurring, meaning Mnangagwa was in violation the very Constitution he should uphold.
“This by-election, like too many of its predecessors since 2013, will count as yet another failure to comply with the Constitution–the polling day fixed for the by-election is over a month after the Constitution’s 90-day deadline,” Veritas said in a statement.
Under section 39 of the Electoral Act, the Speaker is required to notify a vacancy in the National Assembly to the President promptly, and the President’s proclamation must be gazetted within 14 days of receipt of the notification in the President’s Office. In the present case, Veritas said a process that should
not have taken more than three weeks has taken seven weeks.
Veritas said problems that were highlighted in the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) report on the February and March by-elections that should have been avoided in the Lupane East poll include turning away of a significant number of would-be voters for going to the wrong polling station. Some of them were unable to proceed to the polling stations they were redirected to.
Zesn accordingly recommended that for future elections Zec should ensure that there is adequate signage to direct voters to their appropriate polling stations and to post the voters’ roll outside each polling stations to enable voters to check their names first.