By Costa Nkomo
VICE PRESIDENT Constantino Chiwenga, who is also the Health Minister, Friday amended the 2020 Public Health Regulations and suspended all by-elections the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) had scheduled for 5 December citing the Covid-19 pandemic.
Last month, ZEC chairperson, Justice Priscilla Chigumba announced by-elections were to be conducted in December.
However, Chiwenga as the Health Minister announced Friday all by-elections had been suspended.
“It is hereby notified by the Minister of Health in terms of section 68 of the Public Health Act (Chapter 15:17) made the following regulations – 1).
“These regulations maybe cited as the Public Health (Covid-19 Prevention, Containment and Treatment (Amendment) Regulation pursuant to subsection (2), the holding of any by-election to fill a casual vacancy in Parliament or in local authority is for the duration of the period of the declaration of Covid-19 as a formidable epidemic disease, suspended, and if such vacancy occurred while such declaration is in force, no part of the period from the date of such vacancy to the date of the end of declaration she be counted for the purpose of section (158 (3) of the Constitution,” Statutory Instrument 225A of 2020 reads.
However, the Elections Resource Centre (ERC) said the suspension affected the independence of (ZEC)
“By-elections in Zimbabwe suspended indefinitely. The Minister of Health has suspended by-elections in Zimbabwe for the duration of the Covid-19 pandemic. The independence of ZEC has been cast in doubt with the Minister of Health now regulating electoral activities,” it said in a statement.