Zec disqualifies MDC candidate in Umzingwane by-election

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BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE

THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) has disqualified MDC’s Umzingwane ward 14 candidate Nkululeko Sithole despite him representing the same ward in the July 2018 harmonised elections, a move the opposition party said was meant to favour Zanu PF.

The by-election is set for April 25.

MDC secretary-general Chalton Hwende has written to Zec questioning the decision to disqualify Sithole after he represented the party in previous polls.

“It has come to our attention that our candidate for Umzingwane ward 14 Nkululeko Sithole, identification number ***, has been discovered to be from another ward, notwithstanding that he stood for the same ward 14 in 2018,” Hwende wrote.

“The officers at Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) have now indicated that they discovered he belongs to another ward. One of the many ways that Zec seeks is to assist Zanu PF in these elections.”

Zec chief executive officer Utoile Silaigwana said Sithole was registered in ward 17, and that had been overlooked in 2018.

“What happened is that Sithole was registered in ward 17 and not 14. We admit he represented ward 14 in 2018 by default. Since he did not win the elections, his participation had no significance. It was an error for him to represent that ward,” Silaigwana said.

MDC secretary for elections, Jacob Mafume said the latest development confirmed that free and fair elections could not be held under the current Zec administration.

“We need reforms because Zec has no in-built mechanism for dispute resolution … It needed to have a neutral arbitrator in the event that there is a dispute. They seem to change position and support a particular office where people can disqualify a person who just contested recent elections, so that instance is on record and we have complained, the call for reform is urgent but we need to give Zec a benefit of doubt,” he said.

“But our patience is running out and our frustration will soon overflow and when that happens we might hold the view that it is not possible to hold elections with this current Zec administration.”