High Court Reserves Judgement On By-Election Suspension Challenge
High Court judge Justice Siyabona Musithu on Monday reserved judgment on an application by two civic organisations seeking an order compelling President Emmerson Mnangagwa and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to schedule delayed by-elections.
The application was made in October by the Women’s Academy for Leadership and Political Excellence (WALPE) and the Election Resource Center (ERC).
The organisations argued that the prolonged suspension of polling activities due to COVID-19 was unreasonable and violated human rights.
Last year the Minister of Health and Childcare Constantino Chiwenga gazetted Statutory Instrument 225 of 2020 which indefinitely banned voting as a precautionary measure against the respiratory illness.
ZEC lifted a ban on voter registration in March this year but said by-elections would remain suspended due to the ongoing threat posed by COVID-19.
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Lawyers for the two organisations argued that the delay breached the electorate’s right to representation, adding that the by-elections could be held safely without risking the spread of the coronavirus.
The lawyers also contended that the lockdown restrictions had been relaxed.
The president’s attorneys countered that Section 86 of the Constitution provided for limitations of human rights and that the COVID-19 pandemic still posed a threat, adding the risk of a third wave was high.
Dozens of constituencies are without representatives after the smaller MDC faction led by Douglas Mwonzora recalled parliamentarians perceived to be loyal to Nelson Chamisa.