Zimbabwean elections body announces resumption of limited electoral activities

HARARE, March 24, (Xinhua/GNA) - The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has announced the resumption of some electoral activities which had been suspended because of the COVID-19 outbreak, but the casting of ballots remains suspended.

The holding of by-elections to fill vacant parliamentary and local authority seats was suspended in 2020 following the outbreak of COVID-19 in the country.

There are about 50 vacant seats in Parliament following the recalling of Legislators from the MDC Alliance and the People's Democratic Party. Many urban local authorities have also been affected with scores of Councilors in the opposition being recalled amid leadership squabbles.

A statement from Chief Elections Officer, Utoile Silaigwana on Tuesday said ZEC would lift the suspension of voter registration and some fieldwork with effect from April 1.

These had been suspended in January as the country began a hard lockdown following a surge in COVID-19 infections and related deaths.

"However, in view of the danger still posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to uphold some health provisions of Statutory Instrument 10 of 2021 which are still in force, the conduct of by-elections remains suspended.

"This position will be reviewed in due course and stakeholders will be advised accordingly," he said.

The MDC Alliance is accusing ZEC of failing to hold by-elections in favor of an enhanced majority by the ruling ZANU PF in the legislative assembly.

In the meantime, Silaigwana urged those who qualify to register as voters at ZEC provincial and district centers.