The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) says there will be no by-elections after November 1, 2022, as the supreme law prohibits any polling within nine months of a general election.
This development indicates that any National Assembly or local government vacancy that arises after November 1, 2022 would be filled in the 2023 harmonised elections to be held either in July or August next year.
ZEC Chairperson, Priscilla Chigumba, announced the suspension in an election notice released on Thursday.
“Section 158(3) of the constitution provides that polling in by-elections shall take place within 90 days of the vacancies occurring unless the vacancies occur within nine months before a general election is due to be held,” she said.
“The last general election in 2018 was held on July 31, 2018. It is therefore anticipated from a reading of Section 158(3) of the Constitution that general elections will be held on a date to be set during the month of either July or August 2023.”
The ZEC chairperson advised citizens that any vacancies that occurred on or after November 1, 2022 will be postponed until the 2023 general elections are held.
“Members of the public are thus notified that the filling of vacancies that occur on or after November 1, 2022 will be suspended pending the conduct of the 2023 general elections,” Chigumba said.
Most by-elections in Zimbabwe occurred after the MDC-T went on mass recall of members of parliament and councillors, claiming they no longer belonged to the party.
This followed a ‘controversial’ March 2020 Supreme Court ruling that nullified Nelson Chamisa’s presidency of the MDC Alliance handing over the party and its councillors to the MDC-T, the latter has been recalling office bearers willy-nilly.
The first by-elections were held on March 26, 2022, to fill 133 elective vacancies, including 28 parliamentary seats and 105 council seats, caused mostly by recalls, then deaths and dismissals.
Following a judicial challenge, ZEC called off a few national assembly by-elections when the High Court determined that there were no vacancies, including one municipal seat – Ward 3 in Bulawayo.
Another by-election was held on August 27, 2022 for the Gokwe-Kabuyuni constituency, followed by another on September 3, 2022 for three council wards in Bulilima East, 1, 14, and 16.
This week on October 22, six by-elections will be held in Ward 4 Insiza Rural District Council (RDC), Ward 2 Matobo RDC, Ward 24 of Buhera RDC, Ward 4 Guruve RDC, Ward 18 Mutare Municipality and Ward 6 Takawira RDC.
More by-elections were expected after MDC-T recently recalled six councillors from the Binga Rural District Council (RDC) and three Gweru councillors.
The party also recalled two Victoria Falls councillors accusing them of defying party protocol and siding with rival opposition, Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC).