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We’re guided by health protocols: ZEC

Mr Silaigwana

Rumbidzayi Zinyuke

Senior Reporter

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) says it will stand guided by the Ministry of Health and Child Care on the resumption of some electoral activities.

Most election activities, principally voting, were suspended last year in response to the Covid-19 pandemic to minimise the spread of the virus.

Last month, ZEC announced that it would resume voter registration and other related field work at the start of this month, after the relaxation of some lockdown measures. 

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However, the electoral body said by-elections would remain suspended until further notice.

In a statement on Sunday, ZEC chief elections officer Mr Utloile Silaigwana, said although the Constitution enshrines the fundamental rights and freedoms for citizens which include the right to elect leaders of their choice, there were also limits imposed to such rights.

He said as ZEC, they will be guided by the Ministry of Health, which has expertise in the control of the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“In the execution of its mandate the Commission issues out press statements to notify its activities to stakeholders, but not as a clandestine means of operating outside the legal framework. 

“Any insulation to the latter is tantamount to misleading the public on the purposes of these press statements and the integrity of the commission,” he said.

Mr Silaigwana said the legal framework governing the conduct of elections in Zimbabwe comprises the Constitution, the Electoral Act, the Referendums Act and all subsidiary legislation with a bearing on elections issued by authorities that be.

He said Section 86 of the Constitution limits freedoms in the interest of public safety, public health and the general interest of the public. 

“Where such rights are limited through a Statutory Instrument and which instrument has not been set aside by a court of law, the Commission has no right to disregard lawful obligations,” Mr Silaigwana.

He emphasised that ZEC had suspended all electoral activities during the greater part of last year and at the beginning of this year in compliance with lockdown measures promulgated by the Ministry of Health in Statutory Instruments in an effort to curb the spread of Covid-19 pandemic.

HERALD

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