MDC Alliance Demands Electoral Reforms March By-elections

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By Anna Chibamu

THE MDC Alliance is demanding electoral reforms be implemented before by-elections’ are held in March.

This comes after President Emmerson Mnangagwa Thursday proclaimed March 26 as the date on which the polls to replace sacked and deceased legislators will be held.

MDC-Alliance spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere said her party was yet to announce its way forward regarding contesting of its members in the polls.

“The consistent position that’s been taken by the MDC Alliance is that any proclamation for elections must be accompanied by a clear reforms roadmap that paved the way for an undisputed election. The bad governance and legitimacy crisis that continues to plague Mnangagwa’s regime is a direct result of the disputed election of 2018,” Mahere said.

“There is a broken social contract that can only be mended by electoral reforms, then the holding of free and fair elections and ultimately a return to legitimacy and democracy. This is the only way to solve the bad governance crisis in Zimbabwe,” she said.

“This is why we continue to champion a Reform Agenda on behalf of the citizens. To this end, we reiterate our call for the alignment of electoral laws to the Constitution, the full implementation of existing electoral laws especially as they pertain to state media, the full disbandment of the partisan and militarized ZEC secretariat and full reform of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission,” she added.

But the Zimbabwe Election Commission (Zec) spokesperson Leticia Kazembe said the electoral management body was ready for the by-elections.

“We have been preparing for these elections for quite some time.  We cannot comment on a proclamation by Head of State. The opposition knew the elections were coming and we held several meetings regarding by-elections with all stakeholders so there is no excuse,” Kazembe said.

“Our mandate is to organise and prepare for an election. Those who do not want to have their candidates contest can do so. We cannot force anyone because it is their choice. We conduct our elections openly. All processes are done in an open and fair manner. We do not rig elections as alleged. How can we rig elections,” she said.

In an interview with political scientist warned against rushed elections saying: “I am not surprised though. Lack of constitutionalism is now a legion. Zimbabweans are crazy about elections including the opposition. They are not sure whether to go for elections or not. There is madness in elections. Polls are covering livelihoods. The race for office is intense in circumstance such as the one we have in Zimbabwe given the nature of the economy and so forth.”

“If the opposition goes for elections, it should not cry foul at the end. They have gone into these elections for quite some time notwithstanding the lack of reforms. If there are no requisite reforms, the MDC Alliance should not cry foul tomorrow because it is like history is repeating itself again and again. It appears to be conflicted but their members might be frenzy to get into office because polls have become a livelihood for many. It is a big dilemma for the opposition MDC Alliance,” Mandaza said.

A total of 24 constituencies were left vacant by deaths and recalls in the National Assembly and only one post fell vacant after Victor Matemadanda was appointed an ambassador of Zimbabwe to Mozambique

In terms of Section 158 (3) of the Constitution polling in by-elections to Parliament and local authorities must take place within ninety days after the vacancies occurred.

However, the government suspended holding of by-elections through Statutory Instrument 225A of 2020 known as Public Health (COVID-19 Prevention, Containment and Treatment) (Amendment) Regulations, 2020 (No. 4) to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.