The Election Resource Centre (ERC), an election watchdog, has said the cancellation of both by-elections and the 2023 elections as called for by opposition MDC-T was dangerous to constitutionalism and democracy in the country.
Early this week, MDC-T national chairman Morgen Komichi said the 2023 polls were a waste of time and resources given that the requisite political reforms are yet to be implemented.
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Komichi said it was better for Zimbabwe to have a national dialogue that would determine the best way forward. His remarks came amid reports that MDC-T had approached President Emmerson Mnangagwa and asked for the cancellation of elections in favour of a dialogue.
ERC said MDC-T’s calls were “reckless” and should not be entertained. Said the election watchdog in a statement on Wednesday:
Political players like the government, the electoral commission, Parliament of Zimbabwe must make concerted efforts to ensure that such reckless sentiments must never be entertained as they cause disharmony and despondency.
There is an urgent need to implement electoral reforms which are now three years due since the 2018 harmonised elections.
Pending by-elections are meant to fill more than 40 legislative seats and more than 80 council seats that became vacant when the MDC-T recalled MPs and councillors belonging to the MDC Alliance led by Nelson Chamisa.
The government suspended by-elections indefinitely citing the prevalence of COVID-19.
Stakeholders and the international community say Zimbabwe can hold elections in the prevailing environment considering that neighbouring countries – South Africa and Zambia as well as Malawi – recently held their elections.
The ERC also said the resumption of by-elections must be preceded by the implementation of electoral reforms as by-elections without reforms pose a threat to the credibility and acceptability of electoral outcomes.
The election watchdog blames President Mnangagwa for the state of affairs saying he promised to implement reforms yet just two years before the election, reforms have not been implemented.