‘We’re not bound by WHO advice’

JUSTICE minister Ziyambi Ziyambi yesterday said government would not be swayed by recommendations from World Health Organisation (WHO) to lift a ban on by-elections, insisting the environment was not yet safe to hold polls.

BY VENERANDA LANGA

Quizzed by opposition legislators over the legality of a statutory instrument (SI) used by Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga, who is Health minister, to suspend the by-elections, Ziyambi said government would not be forced to adopt WHO recommendations hook, line and sinker.

This came after WHO executive director for health emergencies programme Michael Ryan last week said it was possible to hold safe elections during COVID-19 if proper measures were put in place.

The WHO boss said elections were a key human right which governments should not block under the guise of enforcing COVID-19 safety measures.

But Ziyambi insisted that local conditions were not ripe for electoral activities.

“When we make regulations, we make them according to our enabling legislation and we take advice as and when we see it fit according to our local conditions,” he said.

“We do not just take advice for the sake of advice, otherwise it won’t be advice, but a directive. In our case, we analyse other issues by international organisations and we apply them to our conditions. Let us not worry about what WHO said, we do what is applicable to our conditions.”

He added: “Coming to by-elections, we have a COVID-19 declaration which is ending in January pursuant to the SIs we enacted to give effect to that declaration in order for us to control the pandemic.

“One of the SIs was to do with holding of by-elections. In other words, they were suspended for some time, but when the conditions are now right, we can go for elections. You must also consider that there is a curfew in place and when people are campaigning and there is a curfew, we are bound to criminalise several of our people.

“We do not take everything that they say. We cannot endanger our people. At such a time when the pandemic improves, then we are going to talk about exercising the right to vote.”

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