High Court judge grills gvt over elections ban

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HIGH COURT Judge Justice Siyabona Musithu On Monday took to task President Mnangagwa,his deputy Constantino Chiwenga and ZEC lawyers on why the by-elections ban was still in force yet government had eased other national lockdown regulations including the opening of schools and universities.

Justice Musithu also asked why government was averse to the holding ofby-elections and yet other countries such as Tanzania and the United States had held polls recently.

The Judge also asked the lawyers Olivia Zvedi and Tawanda Kanengoni, to give an indication on when the indefinite suspension of by-elections would be lifted.

This follows the suspension of the holding of by-elections last year by Chiwenga who issued Statutory Instrument 225 of 2020 which indefinitely banned the holding of all by-elections claiming that it was a precautionary
measure to contain the spread of coronavirus.

The ban was challenged at the High Court by Women’s Academy for Leadership and Political Excellence (WALPE), Election Resource Centre (ERC) and six Harare and Marondera residents Ellah Tayengwa, Moud Chinyerere, Agnes Togarepi, Gracious Matsunga, David Gwanzura and Loice Gwangwara.

In their application filed by Tendai Biti of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, they argued that the suspension was a breach of the Electoral Act and the Constitution as government should have held by-elections before 30 September 2020 to fill in vacancies in local authorities and in the National Assembly.

In his submissions, Biti argued that the motive of imposing a ban on by-elections by government has nothing to do with curbing Covid-19 but is a suppression of democracy.

He said government had suspended the Constitution by not implementing its provisions such as holding by-elections whereas other countries in Africa and beyond have held polls and emphasised that all constitutional obligations must be
complied with diligently and without delay.

Source ZLHR/additional reporting by ZCN

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