Constitutional Law expert, Alex Magaisa has castigated the move by the government to suspend by-elections for the duration of the COVID-19 saying it is unconstitutional and illegal but unsurprising as Zanu-PF is scared of the opposition MDC Alliance.

The suspension of the by-elections was announced through the Statutory Instrument (S.I) 225A of 2020, in which Vice President Constantino Chiwenga who is the Health Minister said the by-elections which were slated for December, will be suspended, in terms of section 68 of the Public Health Act [Chapter 15:17].

“Pursuant to subsection (2), the holding of any by-election to fill a casual vacancy in Parliament or in a local authority is, for the duration of the period of the declaration of COVID-19 as a formidable epidemic disease, suspended, and if such vacancy occurred while such declaration is in force, no part of the period from the date of such vacancy to the date of the end of the declaration shall be counted for the purposes of section 158(3) of the Constitution,” the SI unit reads.

However, Magaisa said Chiwenga does not have the power to amend the constitution as the SI unit seeks and alleged that the state is abusing the COVID-19 to pursue dictatorial tendencies.

“The legality of this Statutory Instrument is doubtful. It seeks to amend (by implication) not only the Electoral Act but also the Constitution. The Minister of Health does not have the power to do that. Second, the SI cannot operate retrospectively as it seeks to do. It’s all very clumsy.

“If Mnangagwa wants to establish a State of Emergency in which electoral activity is banned and he rules by decree then he must follow the appropriate constitutional procedures.

He added that the rushed announcement is a result of ZanuPF’ fears for the elections. The elections were supposed to replace recalled MDC Alliance members who are victims of the internal p[arty squabbles within the opposition fraternity as well as some MPs who have since passed on.