BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
FORMER Justice deputy minister and MDC-T deputy president Obert Gutu has urged the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) to dump proposed plans to bypass by-elections and have vacant parliamentary seats filled by party nominees.
Zec is preparing a policy document that will see vacant National Assembly seats being filled with party nominees and has since invited stakeholders to submit their views on the proposed system.
“The importance of elections lies in that they underpin the social contract between those who are elected and those who elect them and the filling of vacancies with appointments would be breaching that social contract. The commission should consider conducting by-elections to fill vacancies that arose in the National Assembly and within the country’s local authorities,” Gutu said in a document submitted
“While the need to reduce activities that require face-to-face interaction is appreciated, these activities need not remain suspended. Perhaps the country can learn from the successful Malawi presidential election re-run which was recently held and all the parties in that electoral process were satisfied with the outcome of that process,” he said.
On voter registration, Gutu said Zec should provide an online portal that could be used to check voters’ registration details.
“Zec should also provide an online portal voter registration and mobile platform that can also be used to check voters’ registration details. They should embrace all technological means to make this process a success and the platforms should be watertight to prevent system manipulation. Where fingerprinting is required, all necessary disinfection processes should be adhered to,” Gutu said.
He said the recruitment of electoral officials could be done online and in a transparent manner so that all parties involved in the by-elections do not raise unnecessary objections.