By Lovejoy Mutongwiza
The Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda has announced that the Statutory Instrument 225A/2020 has been deemed unconstitutional by the Parliamentary Legal Committee.
This follows the recent announcement by the Vice President and Health Minster, Constantino Chiwenga that by-elections had been shelved indefinitely due to the current COVID-19 pandemic.However, the decision was met with widespread resentment from all quarters alleging that it was unconstitutional and undemocratic.
Mbizo Member Of Parliament, Settlement Chikwinya said the decision by Mudenda is a step in the right direction as now the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission can pronounce new dates for the by-elections.”This is critical in that the SI is immediately struck off and had no force or effect. This means that ZEC remains challenged to set out dates for By-Elections as per dictates of the Constitution.”The cases challenging this SI which are now before the courts now have more than a bright chance to succeed if ever the government still wants to oppose which I do not see how,” he said.
Yesterday, the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission expressed concern over the suspension saying it was an infringement on the democratic spaces.“The ZHRC is worried by the recent pronouncement by the Minister of Health and Child Care Vice President C.G Chiwenga in terms of SI 225A /2020 of the Public Health COVID-19 prevention, Containment and Treatment) (Amendment) Regulations 2020, No. 4.“Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Zimbabwe is a party provides that citizens have the right and opportunity to take part in the conduct of public affairs directly or through freely chosen representatives meaning the right to vote through electoral processes.
The ZHRC underscores the fact that the right to vote in all elections and referendums to which this Constitution or any other law applies should therefore be observed and respected,” read the statement.The Commission urged the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and other stakeholders exercise their obligations in upholding the Constitution.