The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) has condemned the continued suspension of electoral activities by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) without consulting key electoral stakeholders.
This follows the indefinite suspension of all electoral processes by ZEC on 25 May due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a statement released yesterday, ZESN said ZEC should have come up with the decision after engaging key stakeholders such as political parties, CSOs, and citizens.
“Whilst acknowledging the risk that the novel coronavirus exposes those involved in elections to, ZESN reiterates its position that ZEC could have reached a decision after engaging key stakeholders such as political parties, CSOs, and even citizens.
“Engagement with regards to whether or not to suspend electoral activities could have been done through virtual or any other means adhering to measures aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19. In the absence of these consultations, ZEC could at least have considered postponing, rather than suspending electoral activities. But even postponement cannot be indefinite,” reads the statement.
ZESN says because COVID-19 may be there to stay, ZEC should improvise on measures to continue operations while maintaining voters’ safety.
“ZESN is the position that ZEC could proceed with by-elections and other electoral activities, ensuring COVID-19 preventative measures are in place for voters, polling officials, political party agents as well as observers. This is particularly so because the COVID-19 pandemic may be here to stay, no one knows for how long if it is for months or years.
“ZESN notes that the suspension of electoral activities was not done in terms of the law. Sections 158 (3) and 121 (a) of the Constitution provide that ZEC should conduct polling in by-elections to fill vacancies in Parliament and local authorities, fix the polling dates for local authority by-elections within 90 days after the vacancies occur. Section 132 allows ZEC to change dates but does not mandate ZEC to change without giving notice of its decision in the Gazette and in the media and beyond 90 days,” further reads the statement.