BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
HEALTH deputy minister John Mangwiro yesterday claimed that his ministry was not responsible for the failure by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) to hold by-elections, disputing claims by the commission that government was holding up the polls.
There are 28 vacant seats in the National Assembly and Senate, most of them as a result of the MDC-T faction led by Douglas Mwonzora recalling MDC Alliance legislators.
Zec chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba told diplomats last Wednesday that the electoral management body was ready to conduct the by-elections, but was waiting for Vice-President and Health minister Constantino Chiwenga to lift the suspension.
Last year, Chiwenga promulgated Statutory Instrument 225A of 2020 to indefinitely suspend elections over COVID-19 fears.
Mangwiro yesterday retorted: “But (elections have) got nothing to do with the ministry. We don’t supervise elections.”
Briefing diplomats, Chigumba said Zec could not be faulted for failure to hold by-elections, shifting blame on Chiwenga.
The commission, she said, had “taken measures to engage the minister on the possibility of lifting the suspension on the conduct of by-elections”.
“By-elections can only be held once the said suspension has been lifted. The commission, however, continues to receive calls by various stakeholders for it to conduct by-elections, with some sectors mistakenly believing that Zec is the obstacle towards the holding of these by-elections,” Chigumba said.
“The commission stands ready to conduct by-elections once the statutory instrument issued by the Minister of Health and Child Care suspending the conduct of by-elections is amended to allow for the resumption of by-elections.”