ZEC Shifts Chegutu Election
27 July 2023
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Gutu West Constituency Election Postponed Following Candidate’s Tragic Death

HARARE, ZIMBABWE – In a significant development, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has made the decision to postpone the Gutu West constituency election that was scheduled to be held simultaneously with the upcoming August 23, 2023, harmonized polls. This decision came after the unfortunate death of one of the candidates, Mr. Christopher Mutonhori Rwodzi, who lost his life in a tragic road accident last month, shortly after the nominations for the elections had closed.

According to the Electoral Act, it is standard procedure for ZEC to defer a constituency election in the unfortunate event of a candidate’s death between the nomination and the polling day. This provision is put in place to allow those who had nominated the deceased candidate an opportunity to find a suitable alternative. Consequently, the election for Gutu West Constituency will now be converted into a by-election.

The announcement of the election’s termination was made by Mr. Utloile Silaigwana, the Chief Elections Officer of ZEC, in a notice published in the Government Gazette. The notice stated that a nomination court would be called upon to receive fresh nominations of candidates for the election of a member of Parliament for Gutu West Constituency. The date for the nomination court to convene will be advised by the Commission in due course.

It’s important to note that the other candidates who had already been duly nominated to contest for the Gutu West Constituency, including Cde John Paradza from Zanu PF and Mr. Ephraim Murudu of CCC, do not require fresh nominations. However, they, or their representatives, are required to formally notify the constituency elections officer in writing if they intend to remain candidates in the by-election.

Opinions among legal experts about the termination of the election differed. One lawyer remarked that ZEC had acted within the electoral legal framework by postponing the elections, thereby preserving the nominations of the other candidates. On the other hand, another lawyer from Kwekwe, Mr. Valentine Mutatu, argued that the postponement might have been unnecessary since the deceased candidate was an independent. In his view, only the death of a candidate belonging to a political party should trigger a delay, allowing the party to nominate a replacement.

In a separate but related matter, ZEC has also officially gazetted the withdrawal of three independent candidates from the forthcoming harmonized elections. The candidates who withdrew their nominations are Ms. Juliet Chirenje of Goromonzi South Constituency, Ndinyarei Mupukuta from Maramba Pfungwe Constituency, and Owen Munatsi.

As Zimbabwe awaits the new date for the Gutu West by-election and prepares for the forthcoming harmonized polls, the nation’s attention will be on the electoral process and the candidates vying for various positions in the country’s governance.

The news of the candidate’s untimely death has elicited widespread condolences, and his memory will undoubtedly be on the minds of voters as they head to the polls in the near future.- state media