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Mnangagwa's call to polls rattles opposition parties?

by Staff reporter
07 Jan 2022 at 05:56hrs | Views
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa has proclaimed March 26 as the day for holding by-elections to fill vacant Parliament and council seats, a move welcomed by the country's major political parties.

The Nomination Court will sit on January 26.

Most of the seats became vacant following the recall of MDC Alliance members following a Supreme Court verdict that Nelson Chamisa illegally assumed the leadership of the opposition party. Polling in other areas has been necessitated by the death of MPs and councillors.

More than 133 seats in Parliament and local authorities have been vacant as electoral activities were affected by the emergence of Covid-19 which led to the suspension of public gatherings to prevent the spread of the virus.

In the 2022 national budget, Treasury allocated the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) $11 billion to carry out its activities that include conducting by-election.

President Mnangagwa has since proclaimed that Nomination Courts will sit on January 26 for election candidates to file their papers.

Zimbabwean political parties welcomed the development saying it was long overdue.

In his proclamation, the President said 31 Parliamentary seats became vacant when members ceased to belong to a political party which they were members of when elected to the National Assembly.

Seven others became vacant following the death of National Assembly members while others became vacant after their occupiers were appointed to other posts.

Bulawayo has two vacant seats, Pumula and Nkulumane that fell vacant after Ms Sichelesile Mahlangu and Mr Kucaca Phulu were recalled.

Matabeleland North also has two vacant seats, Binga North and Tsholotsho South. Tsholotsho South constituency fell vacant following death of Zanu-PF's legislator Zenzo Sibanda, who succumbed to Covid-19 in August, while Binga North became vacant after MDC's Prince Dubeko Sibanda was recalled by his party early this year.

There are no vacant Parliamentary seats in Matabeleland South.

"Whereas it is provided by section 39(2) of the Electoral Act (Chapter 2:13), that after the President has been notified in terms of the said section of vacancies in the membership of National Assembly, he shall issue a proclamation ordering a new election to fill the vacancies in the same manner, mutatis mutandis, as is provided in section 38 of the said Act in regard to a general election," he said.

"I do, by this proclamation — (a) order new elections for the afore-mentioned Constituencies; and (b) fix Wednesday the 26th day of January, 2022, as the date on which the nomination courts shall sit, commencing at 10 o'clock in the morning. fix Saturday the 26th day of March, 2022, as the day on which a poll shall be taken if a poll becomes necessary in terms of section 46(17)(c) of the Electoral Act [Chapter 2:13]."
Zanu-PF spokesperson Chris Mutsvangwa said the President's move has taken wind out of the party's detractors.

"President EDM, true to the homegrown democratic ethos of his party is losing no time to prepare his charges and supporters for the upcoming set of elections in both 2022 and the all-important Harmonized National Elections in 2023.   To this end, Zanu-PF has just finished its own internal provincial elections. To underscore the serious commitment, the Party even held them during the seasonal holidays on the annual calendar. The cadreship and membership enthusiastically responded even as the other population partook in festivities.

"The Provincial Elections were held as close as can be to the pattern of national elections. All in all, they were viewed as a dress rehearsal of the big one in 2023," he said.

"The basis of a resounding victory is being moulded. After all this is the Party that fought a bitter People's War-Chimurenga for freedom and independence.

"The democratic ethos is engraved in its DNA. It will be recalled that its imminently victorious guerrilla army opted for the Lancaster House Armistice in 1979 to give elections a chance. The military victory within grasp was blessed with an overwhelming popular Vote in the 1980 plebiscite.

"A first ever in guerrilla war victories as the bush to office was shunned in favor of the popular mandate as the route to governance."

He said, meanwhile the boxes of the manifesto of the Party continue to be ticked off all to the satisfaction of the population.

Mutsvangwa said an unprecedented infrastructure program is revitalising the national road network, hence commerce will expand as costs of business are trimmed.

"Pfumvudza and scientific agricultural techniques are ensuring record bumper harvests. national. Granaries are filling up. The wayward financial sector that used to hemorrhage the national stock of capital for THE benefit of rapacious foreigners and compradors has been domesticated and termed.

"The value of the national currency is beginning to hold as supply and demand strictures buffet the markets through weekly auctions. They replaced the inherent corruption OF currency allocation.

"Business have never been so bullish. Companies are investing. Jobs are being created once again," he added.

He said Zanu-PF has refocused its attention to long neglected urban dwellers who have wallowed under the mis-rule of the clueless MDC city fathers for a hapless 20 years".
MDC Alliance spokesperson Advocate Fadzayi Mahere was non-committal when asked if her party would participate in the by-elections.

"At the appropriate time, we will set out our position to the people," said Adv Mahere.

She, however, said the proclamation for elections must be accompanied by "a clear reforms roadmap that paves the way for an undisputed election".

"We reiterate our call for the alignment of electoral laws to the Constitution, the full implementation of existing electoral laws especially as they pertain to state media," she said.

Mr Witness Dube, the spokesperson of the MDC- T led by Douglas Mwonzora said the opposition party will be participating in the poll under the MDC Alliance banner.

"MDC-T will be participating in by-elections together with its partners under the MDC Alliance banner. Our party machinery is almost through with its candidate selection processes which will be ratified by our party structures through consensus and primary  elections where need will arise. We urge all participants to adhere to Covid 19 protocols as we fulfil our democratic mandate as a nation," he said.

The leader of the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) Professor Lovemore Madhuku said his party is meeting over the weekend to discuss if they willd be contesting in the forthcoming by- elections.

He said the NCA was facing financial challenges which may influence their decision.

"We will meet during the weekend to discuss whether we will be involved since we have financial problems. For now, we are preparing and focusing on the 2023 elections," said Prof Madhuku.

"We will take into account our financial resources in our decision but we welcome the development. It was time we had the by-elections."

Source - The Chronicle