By Robert Tapfumaneyi
THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has set December 5 this year as the day for the holding of all by-elections for seats that fell vacant as a result of the recall of mostly opposition MDC Alliance MPs and councillors.
The other vacant seats are for deceased MPs and councillors from Zanu PF, the MDC Alliance and one from the National Patriotic Front.
Another vacant seat is that of expelled Zanu PF Chivi South MP, Killer Zivhu.
ZEC chairperson Priscilla Chigumba confirmed the date Wednesday.
“Activities shall resume on 7 October with the proposed nomination court set to sit on 9 October to fill vacancies of the recalled Members of Parliament and councillors and ZEC looking to hold all by-elections on 5 December,” he said.
The ZEC boss said due to Covid-19, voters whose temperatures are lower or higher than the recommended national standard ranges will be recorded and not allowed into polling stations.
The electoral body also said that it has requested for $18 million to conduct the parliamentary and local council by-elections.
Most of the vacant seats in both parliament and councils set to be contested belong to MDC Alliance whose representatives were recalled by the MDC-T led by Thokozani Khupe on that they were no longer party members.
Chigumba said this while giving feedback to the justice parliamentary portfolio committee on the administrative status of ZEC, its outstanding Covid-19 policy on electoral activities and the position on electoral reforms.
“While the commission had to take the necessary steps to suspend all electoral activities during the national lockdown, it did not lose sight of the need to find ways of ensuring that the constitutional right to elections is not curtailed indefinitely,” she said.
“To this end, the commission has come up with a raft of measures which are intended to ensure that the suspension on the conduct of electoral activities is lifted and ensure that it carries out its constitutional mandate whilst also meeting the requirements put in place by authorities as precautions against the contraction and spread of the coronavirus.
“Any person seeking to be registered and all visitors to ZEC offices will be subject to temperature checks and sanitising before entry and the social distancing of at least one metre for all persons and visitors.
“It will be compulsory for all persons entering ZEC premises to be wearing face masks and voters can inspect the voters’ roll using the online link bvrinspection.zec.org.zw on the ZEC website.”
Chigumba said at the nomination courts, mandatory social distancing shall be maintained.
“It shall not be necessary for aspiring candidates or their representatives to remain in the nomination court once their nomination papers have been adjudged to be in order and accepted by the nomination officer.
“The public announcement of the successful candidates will be made at the close of proceedings by nomination officers. Limited numbers of people will be allowed to access nomination courts upon meeting conditions stipulated by ZEC in line with statutory guidance on gatherings issued from time to time.
“A nomination court register of attendees will be introduced for the purposes of contact tracing should the need arise,” she said.
Chigumba added that on the day of voting, temperature checks will be centralised and a screening certificate issued out to all voters entering polling stations.
“Persons whose temperature is lower or higher than the recommended national standard ranges are recorded and not allowed into polling stations. Such persons shall be advised to visit their nearest health centres.
“Polling stations to be arranged in such manner as to allow the required social distancing to be observed. Pens provided at the polling stations should be sanitised after use by each voter and voters are however allowed to bring and use their own pens if they so wish.”