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By-elections suspension lawful, says Ziyambi

The indefinite suspension of by-elections, which were scheduled for December 5, was Constitutional because it was taken in terms of the law and according to applicable health environment prevailing in the country, legislators heard yesterday.

Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi said it was important to note that Zimbabwe was still under Covid-19 restrictions such as a night curfew and limiting numbers at gatherings.

He said the Government had judiciously taken note that by-elections would endanger the lives of people given the prevailing environment.

Minister Ziyambi said this in the National Assembly during the question and answer session.

Mbizo MP, Settlement Chikwinya (MDC Alliance) had asked why Zimbabwe had suspended by-elections when the World Health Organisation had given the green-light to carry out political activities.

He said some countries were holding both by-elections and general elections.

"The opinion of WHO is perfectly okay as an authority," said Minister Ziyambi. "As a country, we will establish how that is applicable in our environment. We have a state of emergency and several Statutory Instruments were issued to control the pandemic, including one that deals with by-elections.

"Once we feel that the situation has normalised we will lift the suspension. Let us remember that we have a curfew and if we proceed with those by-elections, we will criminalise a lot of people (for moving at night).

"When we make regulations, we do so in terms of the enabling legislation. When advice is given by international organisations, we analyse it to see how it is applicable in our environment. We cannot endanger our people; we cannot expose our people."

In a related matter, Acting Speaker of the National Assembly, Tatenda Mavetera, said the Parliamentary Legal Committee was still considering the Statutory Instrument issued suspending by-elections.

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