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By-Elections Suspension Challenged

Five Zimbabwean citizens and two civic society organisations have filed an application at the High Court challenging the indefinite suspension on holding by-elections by the Minister of Health and Child Care, Constantino Chiwenga.

Chiwenga through Statutory Instrument 225 of 2020 indefinitely banned the holding of all by-elections as a precautionary measure against the spread of Covid-19, a decision that was also endorsed by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).

The seven applicants are the Women’s Academy for Leadership and Political Excellence (WALPE), Election Resource Centre (ERC), Ellah Tayengwa, Agness Togarepi, Gracious Matsunga, David Gwanzura and Precious Choruma.

In a supporting affidavit Precious Choruma who is cited as the 2nd applicant says the suspension was a breach of the Electoral Act and the Constitution.

“I seek a declarator in this case on the following terms; The 1st (ZEC) and 2nd (President Emmerson Mnangagwa) Respondents decision not to hold by-elections before the 30th of September 2020, was in breach of The Electoral Act and Sections 258 and 259 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe. That SI 225A/2020 is ultra vires Section 39 and 121A of the Electoral Act. That SI 225A/2020 is ultra vires Section 158 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe,” said Choruma

Choruma argues that the respondents who are  ZEC and President Emmerson Mnangagwa breached the Constitution by failing to hold by- elections before September 30 2020.

“My cause of action is simple. It is that the 1st and 2nd Respondents, breached Section 158(2) and Section 159 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe when they failed to conduct by- elections that arose in the country before the 30th of September 2020.

“They also breached Section 39 of Electoral Act in the event of the 2nd Respondent and Section 121A in the case of 1st Respondent. My other cause of action pertains to the Regulations enacted by the 3rd Respondent on the 30th of September 2020 being SI 225A/ 2020.

“It is my respectful contention that the same are; Ultra vires Section 158 (2) and 159 of the Constitution Ultra vires Section 39 and Section 121A of the Electoral Act. They are in any event irrational. In the circumstances, I this pray for an order in terms of the draft.” noted Choruma

Minister of Health who is cited as the 3rd respondent in the application announced the suspension of the by elections in line with the Covid-19 pandemic regulations.

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