Monday, 29 November 2021

BY- ELECTIONS CHALLENGE : NO JUDGEMENT SIX MONTHS LATER

THE High Court is yet to deliver judgment on a matter where human rights activists challenged Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga’s ban on by-elections six months ago citing COVID-19 measures.

It has now been six months since the case was heard by High Court judge, Justice Siyabonga Musithu, who reserved judgment on the matter.

At the time, Justice Musithu said he needed more time to go through the submissions by the parties before handing down a verdict.

By-elections were suspended indefinitely on October 2, 2020 through Statutory Instrument (SI) 225 of 2020, which banned the holding of by-elections to fill 133 parliamentary and council seats left vacant after the Douglas Mwonzora-led MDC-T recalled MDC Alliance elected representatives for refusing to renounce their allegiance to Nelson Chamisa.

The ban was also challenged at the High Court on October 13, 2020 by Women’s Academy for Leadership and Political Excellence, the Election Resource Centre and six Harare and Marondera residents.

The verdict on the matter was also reserved. The applicants argued that the continued suspension of elections was in breach of the Electoral Act and the Constitution.

On May 24, 2021, when Justice Musithu presided over the court challenge, he quizzed lawyers representing government over failure to lift the indefinite suspension of by-elections after COVID-19 regulations were eased.

Justice Musithu also questioned why by-elections had been suspended, yet other countries such as Tanzania and the United States had successfully held polls.

The judge said the lawyers should indicate when the suspension of by-elections would be lifted.

The applicants said the suspension of the by-elections was a ploy to stifle democracy.

Mnangagwa has indicated that by-elections would be held early next year, but has not given precise dates. Newsday

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