The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has postponed the Gutu West constituency election due to be held simultaneously with the August 23, 2023, harmonised polls following the death of one of the candidates, Mr Christopher Mutonhori Rwodzi, in a road accident last month after nominations closed.
This is a standard procedure so that those who nominated the dead candidate can find an alternative, in effect converting the election into a by-election for that constituency.
The termination was announced by ZEC chief elections officer Mr Utloile Silaigwana in a Government Gazette notice.
A nomination court calling for fresh nominations of candidates for election of a member of Parliament for the said constituency shall sit on a date to be advised by the Commission, read the notice.
Other candidates that had been duly nominated to contest for Gutu West Constituency include Cde John Paradza from Zanu PF and Mr Ephraim Murudu of CCC.
The Electoral Act compels ZEC to defer a constituency election should a candidate die between the nomination and the poll, or even while voting is in progress, and must declare that all proceedings relating to that election were void and all proceedings relating to that election must start afresh in the same manner as if a vacancy had occurred.
The rest of the candidates already nominated need no fresh nomination but the living candidates or their agents must notify the constituency elections officer in writing of their intention to remain a candidate.”
One lawyer said ZEC had acted within the electoral legal framework by terminating the elections and in keeping alive the nominations of the other candidates.
Another Kwekwe-based lawyer, Mr Valentine Mutatu, however felt that as the candidate was an independent there was no need to terminate the poll, suggesting that only the death of a candidate belonging to a political party should trigger the delay so the political party was given an opportunity to file another candidate in the place of the deceased candidate.
In a related matter, ZEC has gazetted the withdrawal of three independent candidates from the forthcoming harmonised elections.
The trio are Ms Juliet Chirenje of Goromonzi South Constituency, Ndinyarei Mupukuta from Maramba Pfungwe Constituency and Owen Munatsi