CONFUSION surrounds the holding of by-elections to fill vacancies in parliament with the Ministry of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs saying the onus to carry out polls lay with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), which in turn said the role to call for the elections rested with parliament.
The by-elections are due in seven constituencies in the country after the incumbents either died or took up higher office in the House of Assembly and Senate.
There are four vacant seats in the House of Assembly and three in the Senate.Â All the vacancies have to be filled through by-elections.
In terms of the Electoral Act, the by-elections are overdue. The law states that a presidential proclamation for a by-election should be gazetted within 14 days after parliament notified the president of a vacancy arising and that the notification should be given immediately the seat became vacant.
Eric Matinenga, the Minister of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs, told the Zimbabwe Independent all issues involving elections were being dealt with by ZEC under the Electoral Act.
â€œThe elections should be held if there are independent candidates and parties outside the three Global Political Agreement (GPA) signatories who want to contest and it is the duty of ZEC to indicate through advertising that there are vacancies and if other parties show an interest then the by-elections will go ahead,â€ Matinenga said.
But ZEC deputy chief elections officer Utoille Sialgwana said it was not the role of the commission to call for the polls.
â€œThe role of calling for by-elections lies with parliament and they have to notify us of the need to hold by-elections,â€ Silaigwana said. â€œThey (parliament) have not yet given us a proclamation for by-elections so far and we will not hold any by-elections unless we have that proclamation.â€
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 parliament), Guruve North (vacant after 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 a provincial governor for Masvingo) and Gokwe South (vacated by Naison Machaya on appointment as provincial governor for Midlands).
Speaker of Parliament Moyo was not available for comment on the matter.
MDC-T MP Chipinge East legislator, Mathias Mlambo, is set to lose his seat in the House of Assembly if he loses an appeal he filed with the High Court after he was convicted a fortnight ago of obstructing the course of justice and sentenced to 10 months imprisonment in the regional court.
More by-elections are expected to be held if the MDC-M expels seven legislators who are currently on suspension from the party.
BY LOUGHTY DUBE