Stare Media – In a departure from the custom of holding elections on weekends, Emmerson Mnangagwa chose to hold this year’s harmonised elections midweek on Wednesday, August 23. By doing so, he ensured that all registered voters, including those from various religious groups, had the opportunity to cast their ballots.
It is said that members of several religious sects formerly found it challenging to participate due of conflicting schedules, especially when election dates coincided on Saturdays or Sundays.
On June 21, 2023, the Nomination Court will convene.
Ziyambi Ziyambi, Minister of Justice, Legal, and Parliamentary Affairs, claimed in an interview with the state media that the President selected a day that would be practical for all eligible voters.
“His Excellency, the President has shifted the election date, which traditionally fell on weekends, to a midweek date.
“The main reason is that on Fridays, we have some members of Apostolic sects who go to church, and on Saturdays, we have some churches such as the Seventh Day Adventist Church that strictly observe the Sabbath, as well as some Apostolic sects that also go to church,” said Minister Ziyambi.
“Then on Sundays, we have other religious groups that also go to church.
“This is why his Excellency decided that we should have the elections on a day when no one will be going to church, hence he decided that we have elections during a weekday.”
Election preparations had begun in earnest, Minister Ziyambi said, with Parliament suspending automatic adjournment times to clear outstanding business in order to ensure parliamentarians seeking re-election have adequate time to campaign.
“As Parliament, we are also rushing to finalise business of this current session. Hence, we had suspended the automatic adjournment times and we were working late into the night so that we clear the Government business that is before Parliament.
“I am glad that the majority of the Bills are out of the way,” he said.
“We will be finishing them and allowing our MPs to go out to campaign . . .”
Although the country will not be able to use some provisions in the Electoral Amendment Bill, particularly after last week’s proclamation, most of the amendments were already provided for in the country’s supreme law.
“When the President proclaims an election date, we cannot change any electoral laws.
“So, effectively, we are not going to pass the Electoral Amendment Bill that is before Parliament,” he said.
“However, the majority of amendments in the Bill are actually covered under the Constitution and in the current Act.
“For example, the women’s quota that we extended, it was already provided for in our laws, and we were already applying it since 2013. The youth quota provision is there in the Constitution,” he said.
“So, we have everything that we need, even if we do not pass the current Bill that is before Parliament.
“There are sufficient legal provisions to ensure that we proceed with elections without affecting any democratic processes.”
Provincial and metropolitan councils will also be included in this year’s harmonised elections, with Government set to enact legislation that enables the councils to function.
The country’s electoral laws, he added, compare favourably with those in the region and provide a framework for free and fair polls.
Political analyst Mr Methuseli Moyo, a lecturer at the National University of Science and Technology, said the move to hold the harmonised elections midweek respects people’s right to worship.
“It is very good that President Mnangagwa chose a working day.
“This affords those who worship on Saturdays and Sundays the opportunity to cast their votes.
“Religion is a serious aspect of human life and must be respected,” he said.