By Wellington Zimbowa
THE Election Resource Centre (ERC) has challenged the Zimbabwe Election Support Commission (ZEC) over the illegal practice of illegally announcing or postponing elections in Zimbabwe, while allegedly relying on media press statements to communicate with the electorate.
This follows a recent press statement by ZEC chairperson Priscilla Chigumba on March 23 this year, which announced the continued ban of by-elections despite the country has lifted the business ban of most county’s sections due to lower COVID- 19 new infections and deaths.
However, the Commission announced the start of electoral activities.
“The ERC observes with concern the continued use of press statements by ZEC to resume and suspend electoral activities. ZEC illegally suspended electoral activities through a press statement on the 7th of January 2021 and resumed operations on the 23rd March 2021 using the same modus operandi, perpetuating an illegal way of administering electoral processes,” noted the elections watchdog.
The ERC noted that while ZEC has a constitutional mandate to administer elections it was not permissible for it is arbitrarily discreet on when to start and stop processes without a court order.
The pressure group said the resumption of electoral activities without outlined reforms was invalid.
“The resumption of electoral activities must be preceded by the implementation of administrative reforms by the Electoral Commission. The press statement issued by ZEC does not outline what has been done to institute reforms and any plans in place to implement administrative reforms that are key in restoring public trust and confidence of stakeholders in the management of elections,” read the statement.
Consequently, the elections body has been urged to “…invest in actively pursuing long outstanding administrative reforms. The future of elections rests in reform, a position already adopted by the Government and only awaiting operationalization.
”ERC further stated that ZEC had relegated on its constitutional obligation of proper notification to stakeholders.
“While the resumption of electoral activities is unprocedural and illegal, ZEC has also relegated the role of stakeholders to being “advised” accordingly. The Commission in advising stakeholders of the review process for the resumption of by-elections has defied the notion of inclusivity. The statement by the Electoral Body suggests a negative attitude towards inclusion of stakeholders thereby making ZEC a law unto itself and unaccountable to citizens and stakeholders,” read the statement.
No statement was given by ZEC why by-elections remain barred, with ERC reminding the former that a court order should warrant the postponement of elections and following after broad stakeholder consultation.
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By Wellington Zimbowa