THE Election Resource Centre (ERC), a poll think-tank and watchdog, on Wednesday said the recent proclamation of by-election dates for Mt
Darwin West and Chirumanzu-Zibagwe by President Robert Mugabe was premature and ill-advised as there was need to first align the Electoral Act with the supreme law of the land.
Mugabe on Monday announced March 27 as the date for by-elections in Chirumhanzu-Zibagwe and Mt Darwin West constituencies, which fell vacant following the elevation of Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa and recall of former Vice-President Joice Mujuru.
“It is the submission of the Election Resource Centre that no form of election should be held until the Electoral Act fully complies with the Constitution and enough time has been afforded to adequately operationalise the subsequent law,” ERC said.
“The current law does not provide for the holding of any form of election that subscribes to the dictates of the provisions of the new Constitution and it is dangerously ambitious to proclaim dates for elections knowing that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, according to their own admission, cannot register voters or even extend the right to vote to all Zimbabweans, in accordance with the Constitution.”
The electoral lobby group added: “The ERC therefore calls for the full realignment of the Electoral Act in accordance with the Constitution of Zimbabwe, ensuring an exhaustive reformation of the law given noted challenges with previous election processes in Zimbabwe and adequate time for effective operationalisation of the same law before any election is conducted.
“The expectation is not that the law is changed today and polls are conducted tomorrow. Changes to laws on their own will not make the conduct of elections acceptable.”
The ERC said if by-elections were held as planned, as had been happening throughout 2014, it would mean that Zimbabweans who turned 18 years between July 10 2013 and March 27 2015 (the date of the by-election) residing in the two constituencies would not be able to vote as they were not eligible to register as voters owing to the gap in the electoral law.
“Similarly, Zimbabweans who moved into the affected election site cannot transfer their vote and will also be disenfranchised,” ERC said.
“An election that potentially disenfranchises voters falls far short of the expectations bestowed upon the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission through its constitutional mandate.”
Meanwhile, the opposition MDCs have dissociated themselves from the planned polls, saying they will only participate after implementation of electoral reforms.