ZEC chairperson, Justice Priscilla Chigumba

ZEC shuts down all offices countrywide

THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) is closing its offices for two weeks in response to the rising Covid-19 cases countrywide. ZEC was in the middle of conducting a voter registration exercise across the country.

In a statement ZEC chairperson, Justice Priscilla Chigumba said all ZEC offices across the country will be closed from July 26 to August 8.

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“It’s here notified for the general public that all Zimbabwe Electoral Commission offices across the country will temporarily close for 14 days from 26 July to 8 August 2021, in response to the rising Covid-19 cases countrywide.

“This is a mitigatory measure to contain further spread of the virus among our internal and external stakeholders. During this period all staff members will be working remotely from their homes, save for critical issues that would require access to the office.

“The commission encourages its stakeholders to observe the national Covid-19 guidelines, World Health Organisation guildelines and Zec Covid-19 policy during the break,” she said.

Meanwhile, ZEC hopes to soon introduce voter education as a component of tertiary institutions’ curricula as part of efforts to encourage youths to take part in elections.

ZEC is already engaging the institutions in that regard and the parties would sign memoranda of understanding once agreements are concluded.

This was said by ZEC chief elections officer Utloile Silaigwana last week when he appeared before the Thematic Committee on Peace and Security last week to brief them on the status of voter education.

“This linkage will see voter education being infused into current curriculum of tertiary institutions through incorporation of new academic programme or incorporating into existing approved programmes,” he said.

Silaigwana also told the Committee that ZEC now had stand-alone departments on voter education and research and evaluation to ensure that the body fulfils its constitutional mandate

He said ZEC had come up with a programme to target rural women and marginalised communities in the ongoing voter education exercise. While the electoral body has been carrying out virtual and radio education exercises these are not accessed by some communities especially women.

The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted ZEC’s activities due to restrictions on numbers at gatherings which has negatively affected voter education. Last year Government suspended the holding of by-elections to fill vacant seats due to the pandemic.

The suspension has now been lifted and parties have begun preparations for the holding of the by-elections.

Silaigwana decisions on whether to or not hold by-elections would be dependent on advice they get from medical authorities and experts on the pandemic.

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