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Zimbabweans File Court Application Challenging Suspension of Parly, Council By-Elections

FILE: A woman with a baby on her back casts her ballot in the country's general elections in Harare, Zimbabwe, July 30, 2018.

The Women's Academy for Leadership and Political Excellence, Election Resource Centre Zimbabwe and six citizens have filed an application at the High Court challenging the suspension of by-elections.

In a Facebook post, the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) said one of its members. Tendai Biti, will be representing the applicants claiming that the suspension of the by-elections by the government is “illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional.”

According to the ZLHR, the applicants claim that the suspension of by-elections by Health and Child Care Minister (Constantino) Chiwenga, who is also Zimbabwe’s vice president “is an attempt to subvert democracy, is irrational, unlawful and a breach of the Electoral Act and the Constitution.”

Chiwenga suspended the by-elections through a statutory instrument, citing the COVID-19 pandemic as the reason for suspending them indefinitely.

The statutory instrument read in part, “Pursuant to subsection (2), the holding of any by-election to fill a casual vacancy in parliament or in a local authority is, for the duration of the period of the declaration of covid-19 as a formidable epidemic disease, suspended and if such vacancy occurred while such declaration is in force, no part of the period from the date of such vacancy to the date of the end of the declaration shall be counted for the purposes of section 158(3) of the constitution."

The by-elections to replace councilors and parliamentarians recalled by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change led by Thokozani Khupe, were supposed to be held on December 5.

Khupe has recalled several lawmakers and councilors following a Supreme Court ruling, which declared Nelson Chamisa of the MDC Alliance an illegitimate leader of the MDC. The court ordered the MDC-T to hold an extra ordinary congress to replace the late party leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who died in 2018.