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Voter apathy rocks Zimbabwe’s parliamentary by-election |


VOA


Apathy rocked parliamentary and council by-elections held Saturday with Citizens Coalition for Change led by Nelson Chamisa saying Zimbabweans were denied an opportunity to pick representatives of their choice after the High Court stopped the recalled opposition party’s candidates Friday night from participating in the election.

CCC deputy spokesperson Gift Ostallos Sizaiba said the by-election with a turnout of as low as 12% in Bulawayo South where Zanu PF grabbed the seat “was a national embarrassment.”

But Zanu PF’s communications director Farayi Marapira described Zanu PF’s victory in 7 of the 9 contested seats as “an indication that democracy is strong in Zimbabwe.”

An assessment made by the Zimbabwe Election Resource Center indicates that the turn out was 14% in Cowdray Park, 13,4% (Lobengula-Magwegwe), 14,5% (Mpopoma Mzilikazi, 14,3% (Nketa), 21.7% Beitbridge West, 34.1% Binga North and 38.5% (Lupane East). In Mabvuku-Tafara, a Zanu PF candidate Scott Sakupwanya was declared the winner after the court barred a recalled CCC lawmaker from participating.

According to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, the by-election was peaceful and the blocking of CCC candidates aligned to Chamisa “is something that was beyond our control.” ZEC was not at liberty to discuss the low by-election turnout.

Sengezo Tshabangu, a self-proclaimed secretary general, recalled some CCC lawmakers and councilors claiming that they were no longer members of the opposition party. Chamisa says he is an imposter working hand in glove with the ruling party to undercut the CCC numbers in parliament in an effort to amend the constitution for President Emmerson Mnangagwa to remain in office. Zanu PF says it does not have any intention of amending the constitution.

Tshabangu’s CCC faction got two out of 9 contested seats. There are currently several pending parliamentary by-elections as he recalled several other CCC lawmakers two weeks ago. The by-elections will be held in February.

Meanwhile, The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) says there were low numbers of people who turned up to exercise their constitutional right to choose a representative of their choice in the National Assembly and Local Authority by-elections.

ZESN further noted that there was peace on polling day although “the campaigns for the 9 December by-election were characterized by vote buying. ZESN members and volunteers witnessed villagers being given food hand-outs and farming inputs in Binga North constituency at Manjolo Business Centre.”

ZESN recommended that parliament should amend Section 129 (k) of the Constitution as recalls affect the essence of democracy. “The power to recall, if any, must reside in the people and not political parties as is the trend in the majority of democracies. There is a need to register and regulate political parties to address the issue of recalls as they bring into question the significance and relevance of elections.”





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