THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has announced that it is all set for today’s by-elections in six constituencies, including Bulawayo’s Pelandaba-Tshabalala. The by-elections will also fill the vacant National Assembly seats for Chegutu West, Goromonzi South, Mkoba North, Seke and Zvimba East.
The lead-up to the by-elections has been marred by the chaos in the CCC party, which saw 23 of its candidates being barred from contesting after a dispute over their nomination. Among those disqualified are Gift Ostallos Siziva, the former MP for Pelandaba-Tshabalala, Amos Chibaya, the former leader of the opposition in Parliament and MP for Mkoba North and Stephen Chagwiza, the former MP for Goromonzi South.
As a result of the CCC debacle, five Zanu-PF candidates have been declared duly elected without contest. ZEC has printed 230 400 ballot papers for the remaining National Assembly seat, which has 215 932 registered voters. The commission has also printed 144 000 ballot papers for the local authorities.
ZEC deputy chairperson Ambassador Rodney Kiwa said yesterday that the commission is ready to conduct the by-elections in accordance with the constitution.
“Everything is in place. Elections are a constitutional requirement and nothing will stop them. We are just waiting for the Supreme Court but elections will be held tomorrow without fail,” said Ambassador Kiwa.
However, the Government has expressed concern over the cost of the by-elections, which have been necessitated by the CCC crisis. The country is holding its second round of by-elections in two months, which is unprecedented since the general election in August last year. The December and today’s by-elections have cost the country US$11 million, which the Government said could have been used for other national development projects.
Despite the cost, the by-elections have to be held in line with the country’s constitutional obligations. On the other hand, the by-elections have been favourable to the ruling party, as it has gained more seats that were previously held by the opposition.
In Bulawayo, the ruling party is aiming for a fourth seat, after winning three seats in the December by-elections. The ruling party also won the Lupane East and Binga North seats in Matabeleland North and reclaimed the Beitbridge West seat that was lost to the opposition in the general election.
The ruling party has expressed confidence that it will win the polls today. In Pelandaba-Tshabalala, the party is represented by Cde Joseph Tshuma, who is facing CCC’s Moreblessing Tembo and Abraham Nkomo of Democratic Opposition Party.
Vice-President Kembo Mohadi, who campaigned for Zanu-PF candidates, urged citizens to vote for the ruling party, which he said is ideologically grounded and focused on developing the country.
The chaos within the opposition movement has seen Nelson Chamisa abandoning the party’s presidency, saying he does not want to have anything to do with CCC. His loyalist, Fadzai Mahere, who was the National Assembly candidate for Mt Pleasant in Harare, has since resigned from Parliament to follow her boss.