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ZEC ready for polls

by Staff reporter
12 Nov 2020 at 05:40hrs | Views
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) is ready to hold by-elections that are Covid-19 compliant once the ban imposed on health grounds is lifted.

Voter registration has reached top gear, with long queues reported in areas due to hold by-elections, as some parties are understood to be transferring some potential voters.

his was said by ZEC chairperson, Justice Priscilla Chigumba while fielding questions from journalists after officially opening a media training workshop here yesterday.

"I feel in terms of preparing ourselves as a commission to hold by-elections which are said to be Covid-19 compliant, because of that policy, I feel that we are ready," said Justice Chigumba.

"I am told we have long queues of people who are socially-distanced, wearing their masks going to register to vote.

"I am also told there are transfers, people moving some constituencies to others. It's their right to do that and when they have gone there and want to go elsewhere after the by-election, we will transfer them, it's their right. As ZEC (we) just want some basic requirements such as proof of residence, national identity card and the like. We don't look at the merits and demerits of that such as wanting to influence the results."

Justice Chigumba said anyone suspecting that the transfers by potential voters would be designed to advantage a given candidate should go to court as ZEC does not intervene.

ZEC announced on September 13 that it was lifting a ban on electoral activities, except holding by-elections, after it was designated by Government as an essential service provider.

ZEC has since crafted a Covid-19 policy, which has input from various stakeholders including Government, civil society and political parties. However, Justice Chigumba ZEC stands guided by health experts on the suspension of by-elections and will review the position as the health situation improves.

The Ministry of Health and Child Care has suspended by-elections citing the need to prevent large gatherings as a way contain the spread of Covid-19. While the spread of the pandemic has considerably gone down, Zimbabwe continues to record new cases of between five and 45 in the last few weeks.

Covid-19-induced deaths, which had stopped for a reasonable period, are now back. But some stakeholders are challenging the suspension of by-elections in the Electoral Court.

The Electoral Court will determine whether or not an act of God or a pandemic is a suitable restriction on the right vote. But the courts have previously ruled that the right to vote is not absolute. This was after citizens in the Diaspora had gone to court demanding that they be allowed to vote.

Up to 78 by-elections are due for council and National Assembly seats left vacant after the death or recall of previous holders of the seats or wards.

Justice Chigumba called on the media to avoid biased reporting.

"Above all, remember that in your daily operations, you must be guided by the country's laws, ethics and codes of conduct," she said.

Source - the herald