Let’s suspend all by-elections until Covid-19 is over: Komichi

OPPOSITION MDC-T chairperson Morgen Komichi has called for the suspension of all by-elections saying there have not been any electoral reforms to guarantee free and fair elections.

Komichi also said the holding elections under a lockdown environment would hand Zanu-PF an unfair advantage and also throw the nation into a Covid-19 crisis as happened in India.

“It’s not about elections, it’s about the pandemic and whether we will be able to have free and fair elections,” Komichi said in an interview with weekly paper, The Standard.

“You can’t call for opening up for campaigning now because if you start the campaign, you will plunge Zimbabwe into what happened in India that went into elections and experienced over 200 000 new cases every day for more than a month.

“Many countries, I think over 80 of them, have put elections on hold to deal with the pandemic.

“It is a debate Zimbabweans must start talking about now, especially the opposition political parties because you will call for elections without necessary reforms then start calling the process unfair.”

However, main opposition MDC Alliance accused MDC-T of being scared to lose the seats it got via recalling elected MDC Alliance officials. The party led by Nelson Chamisa insists Zimbabwe can hold by-elections under a Covid-19 environment as did other countries such as Zambia.

“There are countries, including Zambia and South Africa, who have not abandoned elections because of the pandemic,” said MDC Alliance secretary for elections Ian Makone.

“What they have in fact done is to take measures that enable people to exercise their right in a safe manner.

“We are supportive of all efforts to curtail the pandemic, but we are also sticklers for the provisions of our own constitution.

“Those advocating for postponement, I dare say, have reasons other than the pandemic and they should be exposed for what they are.”

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition director Blessing Vava said suspending the elections was against the country’s constitution and would plunge Zimbabwe into a constitutional crisis.

“What we need at the moment is to assess how other countries, namely Tanzania and Malawi, held elections under the same Covid-19 pandemic. Zambia will also be holding its elections next month,” Vava said.

“It’s an illegal proposal pushed by those without a political base, they know they will perform badly because the moment of truth is reckoning.

“They are afraid of defeat because they have been surviving politically at the mercy of the courts and the ruling party.” □

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