Why MDC will not participate in By-elections

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THE MDC reiterates its position of non-participation in all by-elections proclaimed after the July 2013 general elections. The party remains dismayed by the persistent arrogance and refusal by the Zanu PF Government and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to operationalise the new constitution and new electoral laws before conducting by-elections.

The continued failure to align the electoral laws to the National Constitution epitomizes the total disregard of the rule of law born out of the 2013 unconstitutional proclamation of 2013 elections by Robert Mugabe before the enactment of the relevant laws.

The mandate of ZEC of registering voters, compiling the voters roll and assuming its full custody which ironically is clearly spelt out in Section 239 of the National Constitution, and deliberately by hook or crook omitted in the current Electoral Amendment Act , continues to be the preserve of the Registrar General. The MDC remains perplexed by the insistence of having these two centers of power and the questionable justification of the Registrar General office clinging to the voters roll at the expense of the supreme law of the land.

The illegal issuance of the custodianship, registration and compilation of voters roll to the Registrar General substantiates the speculation of its manipulation. The MDC has always demanded an electronic voters roll in an analyzable format but that has continuously been frustrated. Furthermore, the failure by ZEC to avail copies of the voters roll used on July 31 2013 to all candidates as per its constitutional obligation compounds the speculation of massive voters roll discrepancies.

An available, credible, transparent, verifiable and accurate voters roll is the core of any election and its current questionable state disqualifies the credibility of the elections outcome. This has been the concern of the MDC in the previous elections where the voters roll had bloated figures of deceased people, hence not a true reflection of the actual voting population. Likewise, the July 2013 elections were characterized by proven disparities between the June 19 voters roll and the 2012 population census figures. These disparities are evidenced in the over 750,000 under registration of urban voters, under registration of youths and an exaggerated voting population where 78 out of 210 constituencies had more registered voters than in the census population data.

In this respect, the MDC further notes the persistent failure by ZEC to avail electronic copies of the voters roll used on July 2013 as a deliberate attack to the principles of transparency, and integrity which ironically are its core values. If the voters roll used in 2013 was in good order, then why were the parties not given access to the electronically analyzable voters roll within reasonable time as promulgated by Section 21 of the Electoral Amendment Act. Also the scores of baldheaded youths and other suspicious people that were not on the voters roll but voted using voter registration slips further proves the terrible state of the voters roll.

Although voter registration legally is a continuous exercise, it remained suspended since July 2013 and consequently denying the masses their right to vote. The MDC draws sympathy for the thousands of youths who turned eighteen after July 2013, but subsequently continue to be robbed of the much cherished first experience of registering to vote and expressing their right to vote. Also due to mobility reasons some people failed to transfer their votes to their new constituencies.

The MDC will therefore not be party to a process which disregards the rights and freedoms of the youth and other sections of the population, and more so the breach of section 67 of the constitution which unequivocally declares that every Zimbabwean above the age of 18 years has the right to vote.