Govt Cornered Over By-Elections Suspension

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By Mary Taruvinga

THE government now appears to have been cornered by citizens following its unpopular decision to suspend by-elections.

Vice President Constantino Chiwenga who doubles as Health Minister recently announced an indefinite ban on the holding of by-elections saying the move was meant to curb the spread of Covid-19.

However, some voters Ellah Tayengwa, Moud Chinyerere, Agnes Togarepi, Gracious Matsunga, David Gwanzura, Loice Gwangwara, and Women’s Academy for Leadership and Political Excellence and Election Resource Centre last week sued President Emmerson Mnangagwa at the High Court.

Another Harare resident, Enock Mukudu claims that residents in the area have gone for months without a councillor for Ward 30 following recalls of MDC Alliance local authority representatives.

He has also filed a High Court application citing Chiwenga, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and Attorney General Prince Machaya as respondents.

Mukudu wants the issued Statutory Instrument declared unconstitutional and nullified. He argued the Constitution stipulated that by-elections should be held within 90 days after a seat fell vacant.

“The only exception to that right is when the vacancies occur nine months before the general election,” he said.

“It is my humble submission that the first respondent’s actions were a serious breach of the rights of the generality of Zimbabweans to elect their representatives in both parliament and local authorities. In my case, my councillor in Ward 30 was recalled and we do not have one to date,” he added.

Mukudu argued that measures that were already in place to curb the spread of Covid-19 were sufficient to ensure that by-elections prevailed.

“It is my humble submission that people can exercise preventive measures like social distancing, wearing face masks to prevent the spread of Covid-19 diseases.

The two cases are yet to be heard.