Outcry over delay of by-elections

Civil society organisations have bemoaned the delay of by-elections amongst other electoral anomalies affecting Zimbabweans.

In a report released this month dubbed the Zimbabwe African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) Popular Sensitization Project (ZAPS), it was revealed that ZEC lacks public trust from citizens.

The report is Africa’s voluntary governance review and promotion tool established in 2003 which is  based on the belief that dialogue, diplomacy and civil society involvement can catalyse continuous reform around the area of good governance.

According to the ZAPS, ZEC has disenfranchised some communities by not conducting voter registration.

The delay in by-elections and other election related anomalies reflect negatively on ZEC.

“On 30 September 2020, the government of Zimbabwe promulgated SI 225A of 2020, entitled Public Health (Covid-19 Prevention, Containment, and Treatment) (Amendment) Regulations, 2020 (No. 4), which

suspended the holding of by-elections due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the easing of lockdown measures in February 2021, the suspension remains,” reads the report.

“In a press statement released on 16 April 2021, the ZEC announced the indefinite suspension of by-elections noting that ‘some lockdown measures of Statutory Instrument 10 of 2021 are still in force.’ This move is, however, inconsistent with the Constitution.”

Section 158(3) of the Constitution states that by-elections must take place within ninety days after the vacancies occurred and is mandatory.

“The indefinite suspension of by-elections shows the ZEC’s lack of substantive independence from the government. There is every need for the ZEC to be as credible and independent as possible,” reads the report.

“With the next harmonised elections two years away, the ZEC has a lot of work to do if these elections are to be conducted in a credible manner, producing an indisputable outcome.”

The ZAPS also argued that Zimbabwe’s  voters’ roll has been problematic since independence.

“The refusal by the government to make public an electronic voters’ roll has heightened suspicion of vote rigging through this instrument. Electoral management in Zimbabwe has thus been riddled with constitutional, legal and institutional problems, which have led to disagreements on electoral outcome,” reads the report.

Activists in the past have also raised concerns over names of deceased people, double entries, omitted voters and names that do not appear in their rightful constituencies being common in the Zimbabwe voters’ roll.

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