By-Elections: Health Ministry Throws ZEC Under The Bus
27 October 2021

HEALTH deputy minister John Mangwiro yesterday claimed that his ministry was not responsible for the failure by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) to hold by-elections, disputing claims by the commission that government was holding up the polls.

There are 28 vacant seats in the National Assembly and Senate, most of them as a result of the MDC-T faction led by Douglas Mwonzora recalling MDC Alliance legislators.

Zec chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba told diplomats last Wednesday that the electoral management body was ready to conduct the by-elections, but was waiting for Vice-President and Health minister Constantino Chiwenga to lift the suspension.

Last year, Chiwenga promulgated Statutory Instrument 225A of 2020 to indefinitely suspend elections over COVID-19 fears.

Mangwiro yesterday retorted: “But (elections have) got nothing to do with the ministry. We don’t supervise elections.”

Briefing diplomats, Chigumba said Zec could not be faulted for failure to hold by-elections, shifting blame on Chiwenga.

The commission, she said, had “taken measures to engage the minister on the possibility of lifting the suspension on the conduct of by-elections”.

“By-elections can only be held once the said suspension has been lifted. The commission, however, continues to receive calls by various stakeholders for it to conduct by-elections, with some sectors mistakenly believing that Zec is the obstacle towards the holding of these by-elections,” Chigumba said.

“The commission stands ready to conduct by-elections once the statutory instrument issued by the Minister of Health and Child Care suspending the conduct of by-elections is amended to allow for the resumption of by-elections.”