Zimbabwe’s main opposition MDC Alliance is crying foul over an “unconstitutional” decision by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government to ban this year’s by-elections.
In a statement seen by Josey News Network Wednesday, the MDC Alliance said the decision made by the country’s Health Ministry on Friday, though a Statutory Instrument 225A of 2020, to controversially suspend this year’s by-elections citing the Covid-19 threat was unconstitutional and it infringed on the independence of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).
“The MDC Alliance is deeply concerned with the unconstitutionality of the decision to suspend by-elections. Section 159 of the Constitution requires a vacant elective public office to be filled within 90 days.
“This constitutional imperative cannot be overturned by subsidiary legislation as the Constitution is the Supreme Law. The effective banning of elections follows the unlawful recalls of elected representatives from Parliament and Local Government. The will of the people continues to be violated by the illegitimate regime of Mr. Mnangagwa.
The MDC Alliance added it was of the view that “it is grossly unreasonable to ban by-election when Covid-19 restrictions continue to be eased throughout the country. Various electoral activities are taking places such as internal party elections by Zanu PF and extraordinary congresses by other parties. In the circumstances, there is no justification for the ban.
“We are further concerned that the suspension of by-elections infringes upon the independence of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC). ZEC has a constitutional duty to formulate electoral policies without the direction or control of anyone as set in Section 235 of the Constitution. The actions of the Minister of Health only serve to undermine ZEC’s independence and to use the excuse of Covid-19 to take away the right of citizens to vote and be represented by people of their choosing in Parliament.
“The MDC Alliance calls for an urgent repeal of SI 225 of 2020 and for comprehensive electoral reforms that pave way for credible elections in accordance with the Constitution.”
More than 35 MDC Alliance MPs, Councillors, and Senators have been recently recalled by reinstated MDC-T leaders Thokozani Khupe and Douglas Mwonzora.
They used a March Supreme Court ruling that declared Nelson Chamisa’s leadership of opposition left by late leader Morgan Tsvangirai who died in 2018 from cancer.
Chamisa has since refused to respect the ruling and argued that it was influenced by Zanu PF’s quest to destroy the main opposition.