The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) has said only President Emmerson Mnangagwa can proclaim dates for elections in the country.
The commission makes the remarks at the backdrop of continuous deferment of by-elections meant to fill about 48 parliamentary seats and over 80 council seats left vacant when MDC-T recalled MDC Alliance legislators or councillors.
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ZEC has been receiving criticism for the deferment of the by-elections. Authorities have been citing the prevalence of the COVID-19 pandemic as justification for deferring the elections.
Zec commissioner Qhubani Moyo Thursday said the electoral management body last September announced dates for by-elections before Mnangagwa reversed the decision through the promulgation of Statutory Instrument (SI) 10 of 2021, citing COVID-19 fears.
Speaking during a virtual meeting held under the theme, Zambia’s Historic Elections: Lessons for Zimbabwe which was hosted by the Centre for Information and Technology, Moyo said:
Zec once announced dates for the holding of elections, but the SI then came in.
Countries have responded differently to COVID-19, our response has almost been like that of South Africa. Zec will hold elections once the SI is out of the way. Zec manages elections, but the proclamation of dates is done by the President and because of the SI in place, proclamation has not been done.
There is also a court challenge of the SI which also complicates the work of Zec. Zimbabwe has always held elections when due, but with COVID-19 elections had to be suspended. Currently, there is an SI in place which makes it impossible for Zec to hold elections even if it wanted.
Human rights activist and Zimbabwe Elections Support Network board member Rosewita Katsande said the Zambian elections held on 12 August had proved that it was possible for Zimbabwe to hold its own elections amid the pandemic, subject to adherence to COVID-19 protocols.
Zambian election analyst Susan Mwape, who was a guest speaker at the meeting, said civil society groups, churches and artists played a key role in mobilising people to vote.