The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has said the suspension of by-elections in the country was informed by COVID-19 regulations that were issued by the Ministry of Health and Child Care. We present ZEC’s statement in full below.
Clarification on Further Suspension of By-Elections
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The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) would like to state that it is guided by the country’s legal framework in fulfilling its statutory obligations. The legal framework governing the conduct of elections in Zimbabwe comprises the Constitution, the Electoral Act, the Referendums Act and all subsidiary legislation with a bearing on elections issued by authorities that be. It is also pertinent to note that while the Constitution enshrines the fundamental rights and freedoms for citizens which include the right to elect leaders of their own choice, there are also limits imposed to such rights. Section 86 of the Constitution limits freedoms in the interest of public safety, public health and the general interest of the public. Where such rights are limited through a statutory instrument and which instrument has not been set aside by a court of law, the Commission has no right to disregard lawful obligations.
ZEC suspended all electoral activities during the greater part of last year and at 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. On 01 March 2021, the Ministry of Health and Child Care relaxed these measures and subsequently, 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.
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. In the execution of its mandate, the Commission issues out press statements to notify its activities to stakeholders but not as a clandestine means of operating outside the legal framework. Any insinuation to the latter is tantamount to misleading the public on the purpose of these press statements and the integrity of the Commission.