Nqobile Tshili in Victoria Falls
THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) has announced a roadmap ahead of the March by-elections and 2023 harmonised polls, which includes strict adherence to Covid-19 protocols and setting up of multi-party liaison committees to resolve poll disputes.
Zec said only those that registered to vote on or before January 8 will be allowed to cast their votes in the March 26 by-elections that President Mnangagwa proclaimed recently.
In a media briefing following the electoral body’s 2022 strategic workshop in Victoria Falls yesterday, Zec chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba revealed that the commission has already crafted a comprehensive strategy to guide the handling of elections.
She said nomination courts for the by-elections will sit on January 26 for the 28 National Assembly and 122 council seats.
“The proclamation of National Assembly vacancies fixed the respective Provincial Magistrate Courts as the nomination court venues, while the commission fixed the nomination court venues for the ward vacancies at the respective council boardrooms.
Aspiring candidates can now collect their nomination forms at the commission offices in their provinces and districts,” said Justice Chigumba.
“The nomination forms are also available on the commission website on www.zec.org. Potential candidates are encouraged to pre-lodge their nomination papers to decongest the nomination courts. This can be done in the respective Zec provinces and districts. After the sitting of the nomination courts on 26 January 2022, the commission will establish multi-party liaison committees to resolve electoral disputes and publish the nomination court results in the press.”
She said while voter registration has been closed for the March 26 polls, the exercise remains open for future elections.
Justice Chigumba said the polls will follow Covid-19 prevention measures.
Zec suspended holding of by-elections in 2020 following outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The pending elections will be conducted in line with Zec Covid-19 policy, which encourages adherence to internationally agreed Covid-19 protocols. Among other steps, the commission will ensure sanitisation, masking up, observing social distancing and Zec will also administer temperature checks at entry points,” Justice Chigumba said.
She said the commission will intensify voter education ahead of the by-elections and mobile voter registration.
“A comprehensive roadmap is already in place and will be shared with stakeholders in due course which provides a trajectory that the electoral processes will follow. The mobile voter registration exercise will be conducted in two phases. First phase (starting from) February 1 to February 28, 2022. Second phase (from) April 11-30, 2022.
“The public should note that deployments will be done per constituency with voter education preceding the programme to encourage prospective registrants to participate. The public is encouraged to keep track of the voter registration itineraries to be advertised in the mainstream media as well as online.
“Civil Society Organisations conducting voter education and political parties must encourage the public to visit the mobile registration centres nearer them as per advertised itineraries. The commission will make sure that the information regarding the roll out will be timeously churned out to the public to avoid inconveniences.”
Justice Chigumba called on the media to report objectively in the coming elections and shun divisive language.
“I would like to urge the media as a key stakeholder, to disseminate accurate and balanced information to allow citizens to make informed choices. Let’s shun hate speech, misinformation and falsehoods, and uphold journalistic principles based on truth, honesty, accuracy, balance and objectivity,” said Justice Chigumba. — @nqotshili