The Commission conducted by-elections for 28 National Assembly Constituencies and 122 Local Authority Wards on 26 March 2022. The conduct of by-elections had been suspended for a period of nearly two years owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The State President proclaimed the by-elections on 06 January 2022. The high number of by-elections involved was unprecedented while the harmonisation of both National Assembly and local authority by-elections posed a challenge to the Commission since voters’ rolls for wards closed on the day the vacancies occurred as stated by the law. This meant that each of the 122 contested wards had a different voters’ roll.
The voters’ roll for the National Assembly by-elections closed on 08 January 2022, two days after proclamation in accordance with Section 26A of the Electoral Act.
The Commission established 1 991 polling stations for the by-elections. The locations of these polling stations were published in the Sunday Mail of 6 March 2022 and in the Newsday and Daily News of 7 March 2022. This is in accordance with Section 51(3)(a)(b) of the Electoral Act [Chapter 2:13] which states that polling stations must be published in the newspapers at least 21 days before polling day.
The final notice of the list of polling stations was also published on 26 March 2022 for the convenience of the public.
9 248 candidates successfully lodged their nomination papers for the by-elections.
Since the by-elections had assumed a national outlook, the Commission established national Multi-Party-Liaison Committee to resolve disputes that could arise during the electioneering period. This was done after sitting of nomination courts for the by-elections on 26 January 2022.
A Media Monitoring Committee was also established on 31 January 2022 to monitor the conduct of Media during the election period in compliance with provisions of Section 160k of the Electoral Act.
Ballot Papers for the National Assembly by-elections was printed by Fidelity Printers and Refiners while Printflow printed local authority ballot papers. A total of 870550 ballot papers were printed for National Assembly by elections which had a voter population of 813659 voters while 723750 ballot papers for a voter population of 678260 voters were printed for local authority by-elections. A contingency of 6.99% and 6.71% was factored in during printing of the National Assembly and Local Authority by-elections respectively in accordance with the law.
In terms of Section 52(A) (2) of the Electoral Act, the Commission notified the public in the press of 9 March 2022 where and how many ballot papers were printed, including samples of the ballots.
In order to reduce the number of turned away voters on polling day the Commission displayed voters’ rolls outside every polling station two days before polling day. This practice also reduces the length of queues and speeds up the polling process.
During the by-elections, the Commission also conducted a pilot electronic display and live streaming of election results. The purpose of the pilot programme was to enhance transparency and reduce disputes arising from future election results.
The pilot programme was conducted in Murewa south constituency at Macheke Rural District Council boardroom and at Tsholotsho South constituency located at Tsholotsho centre.
Live streaming of results at both centres was successful while electronic results display was partially achieved owing to some technical challenges.
The elections were conducted under strict Covid-19 protocols. Besides the Covid-19 Policy on Electoral Activities developed by the Commission, ZEC also established some synergies with the Red Cross Society, which provided first-line-medical response to both electoral officers and the electorate whenever the need arose.
The Commission established 1 990 polling stations nationwide mostly at traditional sites
A total of 12968 local and foreign observers and journalists were accredited to observe the by-elections. The elections were conducted in a peaceful environment.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission extends its gratitude to all individuals and organizations who contributed to the successful conduct of the by-elections.