The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has reiterated its position that they won’t be any by-elections until the Ministry of Health gives a green light.
The announcement deals a blow mainly to the main opposition, MDC Alliance, who base of House of Assembly legislators and Councilors, has been decimated by multiple recalls by the Douglas Mwonzora-led MDC-T.
In a statement released this week the commission said it has and will continue following the directions from the health experts on the way forward.
“ZEC suspended all electoral activities during the greater part of last year and the beginning of this year in compliance with lockdown measures promulgated by the Ministry of Health and Child Care in Statutory Instruments in an effort to curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The commission said following relaxation changes made on I March when the Ministry of Health and Child Care relaxed these measures, “the Commission (also) announced the resumption of some electoral activities such as voter registration and transfers while by-elections remain suspended since some lockdown measures of Statutory Instrument 10 of 2021 are still in force.”
Going forward however, ZEC said any changes to the current position will be informed by the advice from the Ministry of Health and Child Care, which is led by Vice President Chiwenga.
“The Commission stands guided by the Ministry of Health and Child Care which has the expertise in the control of the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic,” it added.
A Human Rights Watch report has previously accused the Emmerson Mnangagwa administration of using the Covid pandemic to clamp down on political activists, journalists and other human rights.
Dewa Mavhinga, head of Human Rights Watch in southern Africa said, “some governments introduced some restrictions on movements including national lockdowns which were quite disproportionate or inappropriate for the level of public health threat that was being confronted”.
“We saw in our report that some government instituted discriminatory policies and authorities enforced in a discriminatory way.”
The latest move by ZEC means that Harare Council, for now, will have to operate with over 22 vacancies for Councilors.
The situation has created challenges as various committees are no longer functional due to reduced number of Councilors leading to delays in decision making and operational viability of the Council.