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Introducing PMT Zimbabwe
Parliamentary Monitoring Trust (Zimbabwe)
August 15, 2011

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PMT Zimbabwe’s mandate is to give voters a platform to engage elected representative through organizing and operating projects that ensure that the general citizen have access to information on what is happening in Parliament. By making information more accessible, PMT Zimbabwe seeks to empower the voters so that they would be able to hold Members of Parliament accountable. In carrying out this mandate PMT Zimbabwe is an open and nonpartisan organization that seeks to connect with all concerned Zimbabweans using ICTs and social media

By-elections long overdue

Electoral vacancies, since the 2008 general elections, continue to increase with no mention on when by-elections will be held a sign that the affected constituencies are not taken seriously. The death of Gutu South House of Assembly representative and Minister of Public Service, Professor Eliphas Mukonoweshuro, brings to 20 the electoral vacancies in both houses. There are more electoral vacancies in local authorities. It has been three years since the last parliamentary elections were held and some of the Members of Parliament passed on before they were even sworn in. While death is part of nature, what has become worrisome is the failure to fill in the vacancies, something that is unacceptable in any democracy. This failure, while a travesty of representative democracy, is also in violation of the country’s constitution as well as the Global Political Agreement which gave birth to the government system currently prevailing in the country. Under the GPA, the three political parties, MDC-T, Zanu PF and MDC, agreed that: “….for a period of 12 months from the date of signing of this agreement, should any electoral vacancy arise in respect of a local authority or parliamentary seat, for whatever reason, only the party holding that seat prior to the vacancy occurring shall be entitled to nominate and field a candidate to fill in the seat subject to that party complying with the rules governing its internal democracy.” The rationale for such a provision was to allow national healing as the competitive nature of elections had given room to violence especially in the run up to the run-off in 2008. However, while this provision was subject to abuse by parties as they could force down a candidate, other political parties not part of the GPA could field candidates thus making the elections competitive which is healthy for representative democracy. Under the constitution, electoral vacancies should be filled within 90 days. Thus almost three years after signing GPA and the increasing electoral vacancies, one wonders what has happened to our democracy. Whereas debate has been on when the next general elections would be held, it is also important to have the more immediate by-elections for the reason that they will be more of a trial run on the measures undertaken to have free and fair elections. They may not be as representative as a general election but they would give pointers to the electoral bodies, the police, civic society, political parties and the voters’ preparedness. Another reason why these elections should be held is that we are a representative democracy and one wonders who has been carrying the concerns of the affected constituencies. Filling the electoral vacancies may require as much as US$20 million, and the argument has been the country does not have such resources. However, democracy is valueless and when one looks at the figures involved and say it is too expensive to have the people represented, then they should be accused of cheapening democracy. A lot has happened in the last three years and three years and the affected constituencies may have lost out on the Constituency Development Fund. While the affected constituencies were represented by their senators, it goes without saying that the House of Assembly member knows the area better.

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