HARARE – The Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) said it would use Saturday’s by-elections to test the “readiness and preparedness” of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to hold a credible and transparent election.
The party has come under pressure to boycott what is being dubbed a “mini general election” amid persistent allegations of voters roll manipulation and a failure to curb election vices like vote buying, partisan political activities of traditional leaders and lack of coverage of the opposition by state media.
“We have placed it firmly on record that there are huge irregularities. The purpose of the by-elections for us as CCC is to test the readiness and preparedness especially of ZEC,” CCC spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere told a news conference in Harare on Friday.
“Now we are on our guard. We know that the mechanism that ZEC uses is to twist around polling stations, that is already something high on our radar as we approach 2023.”
By-elections will be held in vacant 28 National Assembly seats and in 121 municipal races across the country. Of the 28 National Assembly seats, 20 were previously won by the MDC Alliance before 18 of the MPs were controversially recalled and two died. Zanu PF won seven of those before five of the MPs died, one resigned and one was recalled. One seat won by the National People First fell vacant after the MP died in Kwekwe.
The CCC is concerned over growing intimidation of its supporters, polling stations placed in “secret” locations and allegations that ZEC has moved thousands of voters from their registered polling stations without advising them.
Mahere insisted that attempts to rig the election can be defeated if people vote in overwhelming numbers.
“We can’t test the system without participating,” she said. “I want to emphasise that to the citizens. If we don’t participate, we don’t have a leg to stand on in terms of holding ZEC to account and even implementing the legal challenges that we got in the offing.
“So, please, we have to participate, and we have to participate overwhelmingly. The information we get out of the process will be most useful if we get a lot of it.
“The more voters come out, the more information we have to sample and comb through as we prepare for 2023.”
The CCC’s participation in the election was not an “endorsement of the unconstitutional conduct and lack neutrality of state institutions,” she maintained.
“To the contrary, it’s going to create a platform to challenge using the processes and remedies that are available at law and under the constitution. The question of a boycott is out of the question, it’s something we are prepared not to entertain,” she told reporters.
Polling stations open at 7AM and close at 7PM.