PARLIAMENT has no mandate to call for by-elections in vacant constituencies.
Austin Zvoma, the clerk of parliament, said this on Wednesday in reaction to claims made to the Zimbabwe Independent last week by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) deputy chief elections officer, Utoile Silaigwana, that the “role of calling for by-elections lies with parliament and they have to notify us of the need to hold by-elections”.
“These utterances do not reflect the correct legal position with regard to the filling of vacancies in the membership of parliament,” Zvoma said.
He said it was not the role of parliament to call for the by-elections or to give ZEC a proclamation for the polls.
“The role of the presiding officers of parliament is limited to notifying the commission and the president of vacancies. It is the president who has the role, in terms of the (Electoral) Act, of publishing notices in the Government Gazette ordering new elections,” Zvoma said.
“Currently there are seven vacancies in the membership of parliament, and both the ZEC and the president were notified of each of these vacancies as they rose as required by Section 39(1) of the Electoral Act.”
The vacant House of Assembly constituencies are Gokwe-Gumunyu (left vacant after the death of a Zanu PF MP), Matobo North (vacant after incumbent Lovemore Moyo was elected Speaker of the House of Assembly), Guruve North (vacant after the death of Zanu PF lawmaker) and Bindura North (resulting from the death of the Zanu PF legislator).
Vacant Senate seats are Chegutu (vacated by Edna Madzongwe on election as Senate President), Chiredzi (vacated by Titus Maluleke on appointment as provincial governor for Masvingo) and Gokwe South (vacated by Jaison Machaya on appointment as provincial governor for Midlands). —— Staff Writer.