Mugabe rapped over by-election

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Former Vice President Joice Mujuru

A CIVIC ORGANISATION, the Election Resource Centre (ERC) yesterday challenged President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF to stop the holding of by-elections in Mt Darwin West and Chirumanzu-Zibagwe, arguing the polls should only be held when the Electoral Act is compliant with the country’s Constitution.

SILAS NKALA
STAFF REPORTER

In a statement, ERC spokesperson Chris Mhike said the current law does not provide for the holding of any form of elections that subscribe to the dictates of the provisions of the new Constitution.

Mhike’s remarks come in the wake of Mugabe’s proclamation of the by-election dates for the two constituencies as March 27 2015.

President Robert Mugabe
President Robert Mugabe

The two by-elections are meant to replace former Vice-President Joice Mujuru and the recently-appointed Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, whose seats became vacant the moment they were appointed.

“It is the submission of the ERC that no form of election should be held until the Electoral Act fully complies with the Constitution and enough time has been afforded to adequately operationalise the subsequent law,” Mhike said.

“The current law does not provide for the holding of any form of election that subscribes to the dictates of the provisions of the new Constitution and it is dangerously ambitious to proclaim dates for elections knowing that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), according to their own admission, cannot register voters or even extend the right to vote to all Zimbabweans, in accordance with the Constitution.”

Mhike said on the one hand, the proclamation of by-election dates is in accordance with legal provisions, while on the other hand, holding the same by-elections potentially violated the supreme law of the land.

“The expectation is not that the law is changed today and polls are conducted tomorrow,” he said.

“Changes to laws on their own will not make the conduct of elections acceptable.”

Mhike said if by-elections are held, it meant that, Zimbabweans who turned 18 years between July 10 2013 and March 27 2015 (the date of the by-election), residing in the constituency or ward in which the election will have been called, will be disenfranchised, since they have not been afforded an opportunity to register to vote owing to the gap in the electoral law.

“Similarly Zimbabweans who moved into the affected election site cannot transfer their vote and will also be disenfranchised,” he said.

“An election that potentially disenfranchises voters falls far short of the expectations bestowed upon ZEC through its constitutional mandate.

“The ERC, therefore, calls for the full realignment of the Electoral Act in accordance with the Constitution of Zimbabwe, ensuring an exhaustive reformation of the law given the noted challenges with previous election processes in Zimbabwe and adequate time for effective operationalisation of the same law before any election is conducted.”