THE high number of political parties taking part in the March by-elections is testimony to the opening up of democratic spaces by the Second Republic led by President Mnangagwa.
Previously, by-elections attracted little attention in terms of both political parties’ participation and voters but the March by-elections will see 157 candidates from 16 political parties plus independent candidates vying for 28 seats in Parliament.
The forthcoming elections will also see other candidates battling it out for local authority seats where nearly 120 seats were declared vacant.
Among the contesting parties is the ruling party Zanu-PF, MDC-Alliance, Zimbabwe Labour Party, Citizens Coalition for Change, New Patriotic Front, Free Zimbabwe Congress and the Republican Party of Zimbabwe, among others.
The by-elections come on the back of the 2018 harmonised elections where a record 23 candidates took part in the Presidential polls, the highest number of Presidential aspirants since the country’s Independence in 1980.
When he came into power, President Mnangagwa promised, among other things, to open up the country’s democratic space to promote plurality.
The President has also emphasised the importance of unity in diversity of political persuasion while putting the national interest first.
It is against this background that Zimbabweans are encouraged to uphold the values that the President has preached as they prepare for the by-elections.
President Mnangagwa is set to preside over the launch of the Zanu-PF by-election campaign this week.
Some parties have started conducting campaigns on various platforms.
Meanwhile, political parties and candidates are urged to heed calls by the police to desist from engaging in violence as they carry out their campaigns.
They are reminded also, as the police have urged, to continue adhering to Covid-19 regulations.
Speaking at a recent district multi-party meeting in Kwekwe, the officer commanding Kwekwe District, Chief Superintendent Denford Maingire said the police will be out in full force to enforce peace.
“We are all reminded to adhere to the statutes of the constitution of the country and to the electoral code of conduct which guides political parties and candidates.
There is no room for violence during the campaign and as police nothing will stop us from doing our job. As police, we do not belong to any political party, we belong to the people and we will not hesitate to make arrests,” warned Chief Sup Maingire.
“We should keep in mind that this is the first-ever election in Zimbabwe to be held under the pandemic. Government recently relaxed the restrictions, but let us ensure that we abide by those that are still applicable. If any party breaches Covid-19 regulations, as police we will do our job of enforcing the law,” he said.
Chief Supt Maingire encouraged political parties to apply and formally notify law enforcement agencies of any political activities that will be held in the district in case of any eventualities and avoid a brush with the law.
He said some activities like door-to-door campaigns were not provided for in the electoral code of conduct and should be done away with.
As the country inches towards the by-elections, it is important to remember that we are Zimbabweans first and the national interest comes before any other interest.
Article Source: The Chronicle