A senior official said that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) has no legal authority to order when a by-election is held because it has no authority to make policy decisions.
Zec chairman Priscilla Chigumba told reporters at a media seminar at the Zimbabwe School of Public Administration and Management in Harare yesterday that the electoral agency only persuades the executive branch.
“The role of Zec is to make recommendations to the executive through our line ministry of Justice. There is nowhere in the Constitution or the Electoral Act that gives us the mandate to make regulations on our own behalf or to make laws,” she said.
Just recently, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga announced that no by-elections would be held any time soon as the country was not yet out of the woods with regards to the Covid-19 pandemic.
This is notwithstanding the fact that Zec had earlier indicated its readiness to hold safe elections in December.
“What I said to the parliamentary portfolio committee on Justice is that as Zec we have a plan where we anticipate that if we are going to have Covid-19-compliant elections, having done all the administrative work including providing personal protective equipment to our stakeholder, we will be ready by December 5.
“It was a recommendation to the President because he is the only one who can proclaim election dates; of course in consultation with us. The response we got was that we cannot do it now and I don’t know what they had discussed with the Health ministry. It is not up to us to demand justification,” Chigumba said.
Most of the intended by-elections were necessitated by the recalls of opposition MDC MPs and councillors.
Chigumba called upon stakeholders who feel that the commission was not independent enough to push Parliament to amend the electoral laws.
“We administer electoral laws which emanate from Parliament and if stakeholders are not happy with our current mandate, they must button hole those in Parliament to change the laws.
“If they think we do not have enough power, we will be happy to have more of it. In South Africa, their laws give the electoral commission power to discipline even the political players by docking votes for any malpractice. We also need that if you give it to us,” said the Zec boss.
She, however, said the executive had acceded to their recommendations to be accorded the status of essential services during the Covid-19 period.