Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) has invited observers ahead of the March by-elections which will see 117 local authority and 28 National Assembly seats up for grabs.
Most of the seats became vacant following recalls of MDC-Alliance members following a Supreme Court verdict that Nelson Chamisa illegally assumed the leadership of the opposition party. Polling in other areas has been necessitated by the death of MPs and councillors.
Matabeleland region has 20 vacant local authority vacant seats and four National Assembly seats.
Bulawayo has nine vacant council seats, Matabeleland North, five and Matabeleland South has six vacancies.
Bulawayo’s seats fell vacant following the recall of eight councillors and the death of Ronnah Mudara all from the MDC-T party while in Matabeleland North two councillors were recalled in Victoria Falls and three Zanu-PF councillors died.
In Matabeleland South, the MDC-T recalled three councillors while three Zanu-PF councillors died.
In terms of Parliament, Bulawayo has two National Assembly vacant seats after Advocate Kucaca Phulu, who was the National Assembly member for Nkulumane Constituency and Ms Sichelesile Mahlangu who represented Pumula Constituency were recalled.
Matabeleland North also has two vacant seats, Binga North and Tsholotsho South. Tsholotsho South constituency fell vacant following the death of Zanu-PF’s legislator Cde Zenzo Sibanda, who succumbed to Covid-19 in August, while Binga North became vacant after MDC’s Prince Dubeko Sibanda was recalled by his party early last year.
There are no vacant Parliamentary seats in Matabeleland South.
President Mnangagwa last Thursday proclaimed March 26 as the day for holding by-elections to fill vacant Parliament and council seats.
Zec has since gazetted the election observer fees which will see local observers and local media accredited with Zimbabwe Media Commission paying US$10 or equivalent using the bank rate.
It said observers from the African continent will pay US$20 while observers from foreign Embassies in Zimbabwe will pay US$50.
Journalists from international media houses will also pay US$50 accreditation fees while observers from outside Africa will have to part with US$100.
“The Zec hereby invites applications from observers and media for accreditation to observe by-elections in respect of 28 National Assembly Constituencies as indicated in Proclamation No.1 of 2022 and 117 Local Authority wards to be held on 26 March 2022. All applicants must be received at Zec Head Office no later than 22 March 2022. The accreditation of successful applicants shall be conducted between 8AM and 5PM at venues to be advised commencing 18 January 2022,” read the statement.
Zec said the Nomination Court will sit on January 26.
“Now therefore, the Commission hereby notifies the public of the vacancies that have risen as specified in the first, second and third schedule. The public is further notified that: councillors for the vacant wards shall sit on Wednesday 26 January 2022 commencing from 10AM to 4PM. The nomination courts shall sit at places designated in the Fourth Schedule for the purposes of receiving nomination candidates for election as councillors for the wards in the stated local authorities and shall be presided over by the nomination officers stated therein,” reads the statement.
The Bulawayo Nomination Court will sit at the Bulawayo City Council’s boardroom while in Matabeleland North three venues have been designated; Bubi Rural District Council boardroom, Victoria Falls Council boardroom.
In Matabeleland South, the Nomination Court will sit at Beitbridge Town Council, Gwanda Town Council, Umzingwane RDC and Insiza RDC boardrooms.
Most political parties have said they are ready for the coming election.
Analysts have said the elections will be a precursor of the watershed harmonised elections set for next year. — @nqotshili