Elita Chikwati in Chinhoyi
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission((ZEC) is committed and ready to hold by-elections but is only waiting for a nod from the Health and Child Care Ministry which suspended public gatherings as part of efforts to reduce the spread of Covid-19.
This came out yesterday at a ZEC media training workshop in Chinhoyi.
Zec said there were 117 pending by-elections but that the Covid-19 pandemic had made it impossible for the body to hold elections.
ZEC deputy chairperson Mr Emmanuel Magade said the commission was ready to hold the by-elections but the current situation was unusual because of the pandemic.
“As soon as it becomes practically possible, and as soon as it becomes safe, we will hold the by-elections. We have nothing to hide as ZEC,” he said.
ZEC commissioner Dr Qubani Moyo said the delays by ZEC in holding by-elections were not deliberate.
“The current situation is that Government has put in place measures to deal with Covid-19. Elections are not the only activity affected by the pandemic. We are ready and raring to go.
“Our business is to conduct elections and if there are no elections, we become idle. This is not the first time that we have had recalls. We have had recalls of Munyaradzi Gwisayi in 2001 and we held elections. Mr Tendai Biti was recalled by Mr Morgan Tsvangirai and Mr Abednico Bhebe by the Prof Mutambara led MDC and we conducted by-elections.
” It is just that we are in a circumstance where there is an act of God and it is beyond us,” he said.
He said ZEC has also started preparing for the 2023 elections and is engaging stakeholders to educate them on the electoral process to reduce disputes.
Dr Moyo said there have always been disputes surrounding elections and these were caused by a number of issues, chief among them revolving around the electoral law and legislation.
“We have seen some disputes that arise in Parliament and are exported to ZEC,” he said.
He said some of the disputes also rose from the voters’ roll, delimitation, design and printing of ballot paper, media and results transmission and announcement.
“The commission is always under pressure to announce results even before finishing compilation of the results, ” he said.
Dr Moyo said they had improved mechanisms to resolve electoral disputes.
We have multi-party liaison committees that are chaired by a ZEC commissioner to deal with issues that arise.
“We also have the special police liaison officer code of conduct for political parties which governs their behaviour. We have had challenges with the compilation of the voters’ roll but have since been improved through the introduction of biometric registration,” he said.
As ZEC is preparing for the 2023 elections, it has begun engaging stakeholders to inform them about the commission’s programmes and activities.
Some of the issues to be discussed include the delimitation process, voter registration, media ethics and gender and elections.