ED proclaims by-elections for 6 seats

Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa

PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is on leave until February 5, yesterday briefly cut his break to proclaim by-election dates for the six constituencies where polls had been suspended by the High Court, marking a week of legal drama and political gamesmanship.

Mnangagwa caused the nomination court to convene following a High Court ruling barring the holding of elections.

“Whereas a judge of the High Court sitting in Harare had ordered the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) to cancel the nomination court process for six constituencies,  it is necessary to extend the nomination court process in respect of the six constituencies,” Mnangagwa said in his proclamation.

The six constituencies include Harare East, where CCC vice-president Tendai Biti was recalled, Mbizo (Settlement Chikwinya), Pumula (Sichelesile Mahlangu), Nkulumane (Kucaca Phulu), Kambuzuma (Willias Madzimure) and Mutasa South (Regai Tsunga).

“We have filed nomination papers for all our candidates for the by-elections, particularly for those that the Zec had said there is no by-election in respect of the court judgment,” CCC deputy spokesperson Gift “Ostallos” Siziba said.

Meanwhile, civic society groups said it was a waste of resources for Zimbabwe to hold elections before implementation of electoral reforms.

Speaking during an online meeting organised by the Zimbabwe Election Support Network, and attended by various stakeholders, including Zanu PF and opposition parties, National Constitutional Assembly secretary-general Madock Chivasa said the electoral playing field favoured the ruling party.

He said there was need for continuous engagement with political parties to build trust.

“The way we engage with Zec is problematic because the only time we engage Zec is the time they invite us and they only activate political liaison towards elections only,” Chivasa said.

Human rights defender Effie Ncube said: “The appointment of officials to Zec itself is compromised as the whole commission was appointed by the sitting President and it’s the same Zec that participated in the previous election.”

But Zanu PF’s information director Tafadzwa Mugwadi said opposition parties were sensing defeat.

“Political parties should have confidence in Zec in order to promote a safe campaigning and voting environment. Any issues should be reported to Zec and not the media and any agendas that tarnish the electoral board should be avoided,” he said.

Women’s Institute for Leadership Trust executive director Samukeliso Khumalo claimed that Zec was captured by the State and could not act independently.

Khumalo blasted government for denying youths and diasporans the right to vote.

“There is no talk of diaspora voter registration and voting. This blind eye to diasporas is hypocritical considering that this government is projected to be collecting close to about US1,3 billion for diaspora remittances by the end of 2021,” she said. “That is a significant contribution to Zimbabwe’s economy and yet these citizens are still marginalised and excluded from participating in electoral processes.”

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