By Joyce Mukucha
While welcoming the efforts of the Government in the fight against Covid-19, the Election Resource Centre (ERC) has urged the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to be compliant with the law in arriving at any suspension and postponement of electoral activities.
ERC revealed this after noting with concern the continued use of press releases by the ZEC to suspend electoral activities.
In a statement, ERC reminded ZEC to conform to principles of constitutionalism by seeking legal condonation for the suspension through the courts.
The latest press release published by ZEC on the 7th of January 2021, further suspended all electoral activities in Zimbabwe for the duration of the 30-day lockdown imposed by Statutory Instrument 10 of 2021.
“Constitutionally, ZEC is not empowered to continually postpone electoral activities via press releases. The continued suspension of all electoral activities is void of the adherence to laws that qualify the suspension of electoral activities.
“Any suspension of electoral activities must be sought by ZEC through a court order justifying the continued suspension of electoral activities,” the statement reads.
Referring to the neighbouring Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) of South Africa which recently stated that the lockdown restriction curtailed political activity, imperiling the freeness and fairness of the elections, which forced IEC to seek courts approval in postponing by-elections following consultation with political parties, ERC highlighted that it was important for ZEC to adhere to international standards.
“The ERC urges ZEC to adhere to international standards and take proactive steps in adequately consulting stakeholders affected by the ongoing suspension of electoral activities to find legal sustainable solutions to the electoral impasse brought on by Covid-19.”
Additionally, ERC stressed that ZEC should take the aforementioned calls and indicated that transparency, accountability, and credibility should underline all the actions undertaken by ZEC.
“Electoral rights are sacrosanct to principles of democracy and due process ought to be respected when limiting them,” said ERC.