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Zanu-PF, MDC Alliance defy Chiwenga's election ban





THE ruling Zanu-PF and opposition MDC Alliance yesterday said they were going ahead with preparations for by-elections despite the recent poll ban imposed by Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga.

In announcing the ban, Chiwenga, who doubles as Health minister, cited COVID-19 fears, but his decision has been widely dismissed with the World Health Organisation last week saying elections could still be safely held as long as authorities enforce certain safety measures.

Some voters have challenged the ban in court, with constitutional law experts saying they stood a greater chance of winning the case.

At the weekend, both parties were in the trenches holding primary elections in various parts of the country, saying they were confident the ban would be reversed soon.

Several constituencies are without representation in Parliament after Thokozani Khupe recalled 32 MDC Alliance MPs accusing them of defecting from her MDC-T party.

Zanu-PF national commissar Victor Matemadanda said his party was on the ground for any eventuality, insisting that the people needed representation "at all times".

"The ban doesn't have anything to do with the preparation because COVID-19 will come to an end and elections will be there, but meanwhile, people want service, so we can't have a time we say politics is on leave in a constituency where there are people," Matemadanda said.

"Therefore, we are preparing until elections are called for so we remain prepared."

Zanu-PF held primary elections in Epworth where Kudakwashe Damson emerged victorious.

This was the second primary election after Chiwenga's declaration, with the one held in Kwekwe Central to replace the late National Patriotic Front MP Masango Matambanadzo being aborted due to intra-party violence.

The Epworth seat fell vacant following the recall of MDC Alliance MP Ethenrige Kureva by Khupe.

The MDC Alliance also held primary elections in Kuwadzana to choose a candidate to replace Miriam Mushayi who passed on in September.

Party secretary-general Chalton Hwende said the ban was unconstitutional and by-elections would be held anytime.

"We held a primary election for Kuwadzana where we lost Honourable Mushayi. We are not doing primary elections for the recalled MPs because we have maintained that the move was unconstitutional," Hwende said.

Hwende is one of the 32 MPs recalled by the MDC-T.

"We have maintained that the ban on by-elections is unconstitutional and Parliament has weighed in and also stated that it is unconstitutional.

"We insist the law must be upheld and that is why we are busy preparing and also Zanu-PF is preparing because they know that they cannot violate the Constitution. Zanu-PF is also holding primary elections and it means they are preparing for elections anytime."

Last month, Chiwenga announced postponement of the by-elections indefinitely before Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda told Parliament on Thursday that Statutory Instrument 225A of 2020 had been deemed unconstitutional by the Parliamentary Legal Committee.

He, however, appeared to make a U-turn saying the committee was yet to meet over the matter and would likely make a determination in two weeks.

Mbizo MP Settlement Chikwinya (MDC Alliance) yesterday said the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission had already opened a voter registration centre in the Midlands, raising fears it could be planning to register bussed voters.

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Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka

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