MDC Alliance demands reversal of poll ban directive

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By Alois Vinga

MDC ALLIANCE has called on Vice President Constantino Chiwenga to reverse his controversial decision to ban all by-elections in the country.

In a statement, MDC-Alliance secretary for elections, Ian Makone described the directive as unconstitutional.

Chiwenga, who doubles as the country’s health minister, last week decreed a stop in the holding of by-elections for many vacant legislative and municipal seats.

The by-elections were called for December 5, 2020.

The VP amended Statutory Instrument 225A of 2020, Public Health COVID-19 Prevention, Containment and Treatment) (Amendment) Regulations, 2020 (No 4), a policy shift that also affected the holding of the mini-polls.

But Makone this week urged the former military boss to rescind the SI arguing it contradicted the constitution.

“The MDC Alliance calls for the urgent repeal of SI 225 of 2020 and for comprehensive electoral reforms that pave way for credible elections in accordance with the constitution,” he said.

The opposition official said MDC Alliance was deeply concerned by the apparent violation of Section 159 of the constitution stipulating the filling of vacant elective public offices to be within 90 days.

MDC Alliance accused President Emmerson Mnangagwa of using his undue influence to infringe on citizens’ rights.

“The effective banning of elections follows the unlawful recalls of elected representatives from parliament and local government. The will of the people continues to be violated by the regime of Mr Mnangagwa,” he said.

Makone questioned why government found it appropriate to stop the holding of by-elections at a time it has been relaxing Covid-19 restrictions.

He said this was even a paradox when the ruling Zanu PF party itself was busy holding its own primary elections irrespective of the ban on elections.

Said the MDC Alliance official, “In the circumstances, there is no jurisdiction for the ban. We are further concerned that the suspension of by-elections infringes upon the independence of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) which has a constitutional duty to formulate electoral policies without the direction or the control of anyone,” he said.

Makone said Chiwenga’s actions only served to undermine ZEC’s independence and to use the Covid-19 excuse to take away the right of citizens to vote and to be represented by people of their choosing in parliament.