The Zimbabwe Elections Support Network (ZESN) has said the discord between the Health and Child Care Ministry and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) over pending by-elections is an indication of policy inconsistency, something which could later affect the credibility of the polls.
The country has over 20 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 recently said 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
Health deputy minister John Mangwiro however said the ministry had nothing to do with elections.
“Worryingly, this discord is disturbing and a sure sign of policy inconsistency and confusion on who authorizes or suspends the holding of by-elections. In turn, this affects the credibility of elections and is contrary to promoting democracy and relevant human rights,” the ZESN said in a statement.
“The continued suspension of by-elections is non-compliant to regional and international instruments that govern the conduct of democratic elections that Zimbabwe is signatory to.”
According to ZESN, there is no reason why elections should remain suspended when large public gatherings are being allowed.
A case in point is a church gathering of the African Apostolic Church on October 23 in Harare South attended by more than 16 000 congregants.
Political party gatherings have also been gaining momentum lately.
“In view of the foregoing, and considering the fact that ZEC long indicated readiness to hold COVID-19 compliant by-elections, ZESN implores the government to lift SI 225A to avoid the further violation of the democratic rights of citizens.”
A number of countries have held elections under the Covid-19 pandemic. South Africa on Monday held local government elections.