THE Nelson Chamisa-led MDC Alliance has condemned the suspension of by elections by Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga, saying the move was a violation of the Constitution.
Chiwenga, who heads the Health ministry, last week suspended the by-elections scheduled for December 5, citing COVID-19 fears.
MDC Alliance secretary for elections Ian Makone said the move was unconstitutional as the holding of elections could not be overturned by subsidiary legislation.
“The MDC Alliance is deeply concerned with the unconstitutionality of the decision to suspend elections,” Makone said.
“Section 159 of the Constitution requires vacant elective public offices to be filled within 90 days. This constitutional imperative cannot be overturned by subsidiary legislation as the Constitution is the supreme law.”
The banning of by-elections followed the recall of 32 MDC Alliance MPs and 165 councillors by MDC-T acting leader Thokozani Khupe after she was declared the interim leader of the opposition party.
“The will of the people continues to be violated by the illegitimate regime of Emmerson Mnangagwa. We are of the firm view that it is grossly unreasonable to ban by-elections when COVID-19 restrictions continue to be eased throughout the country,” Makone said.
He said the party was not amused by the move as Zanu-PF had been allowed to continue with its electoral activities.
“Zec has a constitutional mandate to formulate electoral policies without the direction or control of anyone as set out in section 235 of the Constitution. The actions of the Minister of Health only serve to undermine Zec independence and to use the excuse of COVID-19 to take away the rights of the citizens to vote and be represented by the people of their choosing in Parliament,” she said.
“The MDC Alliance calls for the urgent repeal of SI 225A of 2020 and for comprehensive electoral reforms that pave way for credible elections in accordance with the Constitution,” Makone said.
MDC Alliance deputy spokesperson Clifford Hlatywayo said the party had now resolved to revive its demands for electoral reforms.
“We demand independence of Zec and non-interference of political heads or other entities, accountable only to Parliament and not the minister as he/she is politically conflicted,” he said.
“Zec should be transparent in all electoral activities and should set up a permanent multi-party liaison committee that meets periodically as well as ‘calendarised’ stakeholder engagement platforms.
Zec yesterday said it was bound by Chiwenga’s statement and by-elections remained suspended until further notice.
“The commission thus advises that the holding of by-elections remains suspended in line with the Public Health (COVID-19 Prevention, Containment and Treatment) (Amendment) Regulations, 2020 (No 4) being SI 225A of 2020, until the declaration of COVID-19 as a formidable pandemic has been lifted,” Zec said in a statement.
Source – newsday