via Parliamentary Vacancies & By-Elections – The Zimbabwean 20 April 2015
This bulletin provides an update on—
A. recently completed by-elections for 2 constituency seats in the National Assembly
B. upcoming by-elections for 16 constituency seats in the National Assembly
C. 1 new constituency vacancy in the National Assembly
D. the filling of 2 long-standing proportional representation/party list vacancies in the Senate
E. 8 current proportional representation/party list vacancies in both National Assembly and Senate.
General Notices [GNs], Statutory Instruments [SIs] referred to below and the Constitution are available from the addresses given at the end of this bulletin.
A Two National Assembly By-elections Completed
These two vacancies resulted from the appointments of the incumbents to the post of Vice-President. Mrs Mujuru [Mount Darwin West] in September 2013, and Mr Mnangagwa [Chirumanzu-Zibagwe] in December 2014 following Mrs Mujuru’s dismissal. Both by-elections were contested, although boycotted by all MDC groupings. Polling was on 27th March, resulting in comfortable wins for the following ZANU-PF candidates, both of whom were declared elected with effect from 28th March [Zimbabwe Electoral Commission [ZEC] announcement – GN 138/2015 of 10th April]:
Mount Darwin West – Barnwell Seremwe [ZANU-PF]
Chirumanzu-Zibagwe – Auxillia Mnangagwa [ZANU-PF]. Mrs Mnangagwa is wife to Vice-President Mnangagwa.
B Upcoming National Assembly By-elections
A. Polling on Friday 15th May
Wedza North This vacancy was caused by the death of the ZANU-PF incumbent, Engineer Musanhu. Four candidates were accepted by the nomination court on 16th March, from the following parties: NCA, TZ, FFP and ZANU-PF [ZEC announcement – GN 133/2015 of 7th April].
Polling on Wednesday 10th June
There will be by-elections in sixteen constituencies on Wednesday 10th June. In each case the by-election was precipitated by the National Assembly seat concerned falling vacant in terms of section 129(1)(k) of the Constitution – in two cases [Headlands and Hurungwe] at the instance of ZANU-PF and in the fourteen other cases by MDC-T.
Reminder: Section 129(1)(k) of the Constitution provides that a seat becomes vacant if—
• the sitting MP has ceased to belong to the political party of which he or she was a member when elected to Parliament and
• the political party concerned, by written notice to the Speaker or the President of the Senate has declared that the MP has ceased to belong to it.
ZANU-PF gave written notice to the Speaker invoking section 129(1)(k) against MPs Didymus Mutasa [Headlands] and Temba Mliswa [Hurungwe West]. Not long afterwards MDC-T invoked the provision against 21 MPs, 17 holding seats in the National Assembly and 4 in the Senate. The Speaker and the President of the Senate then announced the vacancies [see Bill Watch 10/2015 of 19th March] and notified the President of the 16 vacancies necessitating by-elections [the remaining 7 vacancies were in proportional representation seats not requiring by-elections because the process for filling them is by simple party nomination of new representatives]. The President followed up by gazetting statutory instruments ordering the 16 by-elections, with polling set for Wednesday 10th June: SI 36/2015 for Headlands, SI 35/2015 for Hurungwe West and SI 39/2015 for all 14 Renewal Team vacancies [see list below].
Challenges to vacancies dismissed by Constitutional Court
All the MPs unseated in terms of section 129(1)(k) of the Constitution went to the Constitutional Court challenging the announcements that their seats were vacant. The Chief Justice allowed urgent hearings during the court’s Easter vacation, Mr Mutasa and Mr Mliswa on 1st April and the Renewal Team members on 14th April. On each occasion, having heard argument from both sides, the court unanimously dismissed the challenges as being “without merit”. The Chief Justice said detailed reasons would be delivered later. These decisions cleared the way for the nomination courts to be held on 8th April and 16th April, respectively, and polling, if necessary, to take place on Wednesday 10th June.
All 16 by-elections to be contested
The nomination court proceedings on 8th April [Headlands and Hurungwe West] and 16th April [the rest] resulted in two or more candidates being accepted as duly nominated for each of the 16 by-elections. None of the MDC groupings put forward candidates; their position is that they will not take part in elections until appropriate reforms had been put in place by the Government and ZEC.
Headlands – Mr Mutasa’s attempt to stand as a ZANU-PF candidate for his former seat was contested by ZANU-PF and rejected by the presiding officer. Mr Mutasa said he would appeal.
Hurungwe West – Mr Mliswa, the former MP, will stand as an Independent against the ZANU-PF candidate.
14 former MDC-T seats – the constituencies, grouped by province, are as follows:
Bulawayo Metropolitan [5 seats]: Lobengula, Luveve, Makokoba, Mpopoma/Pelandaba, Pumula
Harare Metropolitan [6 seats]: Dzivaresekwa, Glen View, Harare East, Highfield West, Kambuzuma, Kuwadzana
Manicaland [1 seat]: Chikanga-Dangamvura
Matabeleland North [1 seat]: Tsholotsho
Midlands [1 seat]: Mbizo.
C New National Assembly Constituency Vacancy: Mudzi West
This vacancy was caused by the death of ZANU-PF incumbent Aqualinah Katsande on 28th March. The President has not yet gazetted a statutory instrument ordering the necessary by-election.
D Two Proportional Representation Vacancies Filled in Senate
The two long-standing Senate vacancies have been filled. They were caused by the death in August 2013 of Senator Kumbirai Kangai [a Manicaland ZANU-PF party-list representative] and the election in September 2013 of Senator Ednah Madzongwe [a Mashonaland West ZANU-PF party-list representative] as President of the Senate. The vacancies have been filled, in accordance with section 157 of the Constitution and section 39 of the Electoral Act, by members of ZANU-PF nominated by the party:
• the Mashonaland West vacancy by Ms Hildah Bhobho with effect from 23rd January [ZEC announcement – GN 13/2015 of 23rd January]
• the Manicaland vacancy by Mr Tongesayi Shadreck Chipanga with effect from 27 March [ZEC announcement – GN 124/2015 of 27th March].
E Proportional Representation/Party List Vacancies Waiting to be Filled
There are 4 vacancies in the National Assembly and 4 in the Senate, as follows:
As all the party-list seats in the National Assembly are for women only, all these vacancies must be filled by women, registered as voters in the province concerned, who are members of the party that held the seat previously and are nominated by that party.
3 MDC-T vacancies The vacancies, all in terms of section 129(1)(k) of the Constitution are in the following provinces: Bulawayo Metropolitan , Harare Metropolitan , Masvingo .
1 ZANU-PF vacancy This vacancy was caused by the death of Annastancia Nyahwo, a representative for Manicaland.
4 MDC-T vacancies Each of these vacancies, which are all in terms of section 129(1)(k) of the Constitution [see above], must be filled by a party nominee of the same sex as the previous incumbent, as indicated below:
• Bulawayo Metropolitan [1 male] [former incumbent Watchy Sibanda]
• Harare Metropolitan [2 females] [former incumbents Sekai Holland, Rorana Muchihwa]
• Manicaland [1 male] [former incumbent Patrick Chitaka].
Procedure The procedure is set out in section 39 of the Electoral Act. ZEC, once notified of a vacancy, calls on the party that held the seat to nominate a qualified person to fill the vacancy. Once a nomination is received, ZEC gazettes it and invites objections from the public. If no valid objections are received, ZEC then gazettes a notice declaring the nominee to have been appointed as a member of Parliament with effect from the date the notice is gazetted.