Nelson Chamisa’s Movement for Democratic Change Alliance has blasted Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s decision to indefinitely suspend elections in the country under the guise of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Below is the MDC Alliance’s statement in full:
11 June 2020
STATEMENT ON THE SUSPENSION OF ELECTORAL ACTIVITIES BY ZEC MDC-ALLIANCE
The MDC Alliance is concerned by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s unconstitutional decision to indefinitely suspend electoral activities because of the COVID-19 pandemic without regard for the Constitution, the country’s electoral laws and respect for the citizens’ civil and political rights. We are of the firm view that ZEC’s conduct is unlawful, unreasonable and unfair for the reasons that are set out below:
1. The indefinite suspension of electoral activities violates section 158(3) of the Constitution which states that elections should be conducted within 90 days following a parliamentary or local authority vacancy. There is no provision for the postponement of this 90-day time frame. The Chiredzi Ward 16 by-election was indefinitely postponed by ZEC on the 25th of March 2020. Additionally, there are five confirmed local government vacancies. Most of them have exceeded the 90-day time frame. Accordingly, ZEC is in breach of the Constitution. The Constitution is the supreme law and supersedes any Act of Parliament or subsidiary legislation. ZEC has fallen foul of this binding constitutional provision. It has not approached a court of law to correct the anomaly in accordance with best practice as seen in other jurisdictions faced with the same difficulty.
2. ZEC has acted unilaterally in deciding to issue a blanket indefinite suspension of electoral activities. The electoral management body did not consult political parties, civic society organisations or voters as would be required by the dictates of sound administrative conduct.
3. The statement by ZEC is vague concerning which electoral activities have been suspended. There is no clarity on the status of by-elections in local authorities, constituency seats, proportional representation vacancies, and legally stipulated continuous electoral activities that include voter education and voter registration which require minimal physical interaction. With appropriate social distancing and hygiene etiquette measures, we believe that all these electoral activities can continue in the same way that court and parliamentary activities have resumed, without causing a public health disaster.
4. Notwithstanding the COVID-19 pandemic, electoral reforms remain outstanding. We demand electoral reforms and the alignment of electoral laws to the Constitution. Most urgently, consultation on the delimitation exercise should commence forthwith.