By Anna Chibamu
THE Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) has called on the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to wait for the court’s outcome in a case in which expelled MDC Alliance proportional representation MPs have sought an order to block their replacement.
The MPs were recalled from both the national assembly and senate on the orders of interim MDC-T leader Thokozani Khupe.
They have since approached the courts seeking an order interdicting their replacement.
Different courts have handed conflicting judgements; in one case a High Court judge granted a provisional order interdicting the MPs’ replacement and in another, a judge of dismissed the urgent application.
Both matters were taken on appeal.
However, ZEC has gone ahead gazetting 15 vacancies that arose in both houses as a result of the expulsions.
In a statement, ZESN felt ZEC should not jump the gun but wait for the courts’ outcome.
“In our view, it would have been prudent to await the finalization of the appeals in the Supreme Court before initiating the replacement process,” said the election-based group.
ZESN says ZEC should learn to consult stakeholder before taking far reaching unilateral decisions.
“ZESN has further noted that the PR seats vacancies are not the only vacancies in parliament.
“The other vacancies that arose in the National Assembly following the expulsion and or recalls of some Members of Parliament can only be filled by National Assembly by-elections as the previous incumbents won the seats through the First – Past – the – Post, that is, Single Member Plurality System.”
Added the group, “ZESN takes cognizance of the reasons provided by ZEC for suspending electoral process that require face to face interactions. Nevertheless, ZESN recommends that ZEC should utilize virtual means of consulting with stakeholders such webinars.
“These enable conversations that can allow for the dispelling speculation and rumors surrounding electoral processes, which presents fertile ground for the peddling of misinformation by electoral stakeholders especially by some sections of the electoral contestants and their parties.
“Sustained engagement with stakeholders even under the current lockdown, using social media and other virtual platforms will go a long way to cement trust in the work of ZEC. It will improve understanding by electoral stakeholders of how the electoral calendar has been and will likely be affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”