Vice President Constantino Chiwenga who doubles as the Minister of Health and Child Care has reiterated that by-elections will not be held this year.
Chiwenga cites the prevalence of the coronavirus saying it would be irresponsible for the government to allow the elections to be held this year.
Last month, Chiwenga through Statutory Instrument (SI) 225A of 2020 indefinitely suspended by-elections which were meant to fill Parliamentary and council seats left vacant mainly by MDC Alliance members who were recalled since March by the interim MDC-T leadership.
Chiwenga said although the holding of elections is allowed under the World Health Organisation’s coronavirus guidelines’ it was incumbent upon the Zimbabwean government to ensure the safety of the citizenry. He said:
Some countries in Europe, for instance, went overboard with relaxations, now they are hastily re-introducing the stringent measures which they had before. Now they are reaping the fruits of having opened up too much and having failed to exercise caution, we do not want our country to get into that same situation.
It should be noted that while WHO guidelines permit the holding of elections, they require that they should be held in circumstances where the risk of the spread of the pandemic is minimal or minimised.
With the kind of medical resources available to us, we cannot afford to have a situation such as is taking place in the United States. The numbers of infections and deaths in Zimbabwe may presently be low when compared to the statistics of other countries. This, however, is no justification for holding by-elections which may result in a spike in those numbers, leading to unnecessary suffering or deaths. Government would be irresponsible if it were to allow that to happen.
The indefinite suspension of by-elections has been described by observers as the government’s strategy to enable MDC-T to appoint replacements to recalled members.