People with Covid-19 symptoms won’t vote, says Chigumba

THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) on Thursday said it has developed a Covid-19 election manual which it would employ during the March by-elections which are due in 28 Parliamentary constituencies and 112 council wards.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa proclaimed the 26th of March this year as the date for the by-elections.

Zec chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba the right to vote was not absolute and people who turn up at polling stations to vote but with Covid-19 symptoms will be turned away.

“The right to vote is not absolute; no one is entitled to put others’ health at risk. So your right to vote is subject to you being fit,” she said.

“The pending by-election activities will be conducted in line with the Zec Covid-19 policy which encourages adherence to internationally agreed Covid-19 protocols.

“We will have isolation areas, where anyone who is exhibiting some obvious signs will be isolated from the rest of the voters in the queue. We also intend to have officials trained in medical emergencies, but not for purposes of testing for covid-19.

“We will not be testing for Covid outside polling stations; we will only use normal Covid-19 protocols including temperature testing.”

Meanwhile, Chigumba said Zec has set aside February and April to conduct a countrywide mobile voter registration blitz. The Biometric Voter Registration blitz was initially scheduled for December, 2021 but ZEC postponed it to February this year following consultations with stakeholders.

At the time, ZEC said the deferment was meant to allow eligible prospective voters to acquire national identity cards which are a requisite for registering to vote.

Chigumba told the press that the mobile voter registration exercise will now be conducted in two phases.

“The first phase will run from the 1st to the 28th of February 2022 while the second phase will run from 11-30 April 2022,” she said.

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“The reason why we are having two blitzes is that after April we will then clean the voters roll for purposes of delimitation because we anticipate that the delimitation process will be started after August 2022, which is when the final census report will be tabled before Parliament.

“The April 2022 blitz is the one we will use to confirm the number of voters who will inform the delimitation process.”

Delimitation is the process of drawing electoral boundaries of constituencies, wards and polling districts.

Chigumba explained that although voter registration was an ongoing process, the voters roll for next month’s by-elections had closed in line with the country’s electoral laws.

“The voters’ roll for the proclaimed National Assembly vacancies closed on the 8th of January 2022 (two days after proclamation), while the voters’ roll in respect of the ward elections closed when the vacancies occurred.”

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