Dzivarasekwa legislator, Edwin Mushoriwa, has said that democracy can only thrive in Zimbabwe if the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) is truly independent.
Speaking in Parliament last Thursday, Mushoriwa said it was regrettable that ZEC remained crippled to hold by-elections in the country.
“As we speak right now, we have got numerous vacancies in the House and a number of constituencies do not have Members of Parliament,” lamented Mushoriwa.
Mushoriwa added: “In my view, I believe that as a country we need to ensure and allow ZEC to do its work to make sure that it is properly funded and that it is given all the resources so that it can play a significant role in this country. We do not want to have a situation where other people will then tend to view the electoral commission as a commission in handcuffs. It appears as if it is doing the bidding of other people rather than the mandate which it was given by the Constitution and the people of Zimbabwe.”
He said there was no justification for the banning of by-elections.
“Inasmuch as I believe that this country is under COVID, there are a number of things that have happened in this country which are actually worse than holding an election in terms of the spread of COVID. We have had quite a number of church gatherings, some apostolic sects having more than 10 000 people gathered at a shrine. You and I know, because we are creatures of politics; you know that when people go for voting, they do so in a single line and the question of social distancing can actually be enforced because our law enforcement agents normally man these polling stations and they will be in a position to say people need to exercise the COVID protocols.”
He added: “If we continue to have a situation where we have got a dysfunctional ZEC, then I believe that we are destroying this country.”
“Firstly, it is agreed and understood that we are under COVID and that COVID is affecting a number of ways and things that we normally do as a country and probably the world over,” said Mushoriwa.
“There is also an issue that we need to mirror, put in terms of human rights – the rights of the citizens of a country, their democratic right that needs to be exercised. You will understand and also know that in the year 2020, other countries that have also been affected by COVID have had a chance to exercise their democratic right in terms of general elections in Africa and outside Africa and also by-elections and other electoral activities.”
He further said: “What we have discovered is that in Zimbabwe in the year 2020, there have been very few or no activities. You will realise that even registration of new voters, ZEC has done very little and even in terms of their work at provincial level, it has been very minimal. You will realise that even in terms of funding, they have actually been complaining that the funding level has been too low to an extent that ZEC has actually, in my view, been operating just like a shell in 2020.”