Zimbabwe is set to hold a by-election on 26 March 2022 to fill 150 vacant parliament and local government seats.
The nomination court will seat on 26 January 2022, to receive and approve candidates who want to participate in the election.
In order to garner votes, political parties and independent candidates will embark on a campaign trail to sell their vision to the electorate.
When does the campaign period start?
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) Bulawayo provincial elections officer, Innocent Ncube said campaigns start after the sitting of the nomination court.
He said the Electoral Act section 46 speaks to who can be nominated, the procedure for nomination, who can not be nominated, and the reasons why.
“The only time a person will be legally allowed to campaign as a candidate is when he/she has passed at the nomination court because it is the one which determines that the papers are in order, you met all the necessary requirements and paid the required money, that makes one a full candidate,” said the provincial elections officer.
National Democratic Institute (NDI) Elections Expert, Jack Zaba said political parties are free to campaign generally at any given time ahead of an election.
“However, the campaign period formally commences immediately after nomination. The campaign period extends to midnight 24hours before polling day,” said Zaba.
The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said the Electoral Act mentions the word “campaign” a lot but does not define it at all and does not explicitly state when candidates may begin their campaigns.
“However, in terms of the Fourth Schedule that came into pass in 2018, the Electoral Code seems to state in the preamble what the electoral process is and when the code is applied. The preamble states: “The electoral process includes but is not limited to voter registration, inspection, voter education, nomination, delimitation, voting, counting, tabulation, transmission and announcement of results.
“In reference to Sections 158 and 159 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, the Code starts applying 12 months before the earliest possible polling date of a general election and for the 90 days before a by-election caused by a vacancy or a general election required by the dissolution of Parliament.”
In addition, section/regulation 7 (1) (d) of the Code states that “No political party or candidate may, from midnight twenty-four hours before polling day in any election or referendum until polling stations are closed on that day campaign or display campaign material within 300 meters of a polling station or counting center,” said the Human rights lawyer.
“Therefore, it seems that the campaign period applies from 12 months prior to the day before the voting date in ordinary elections and 90 days to the day before the polling date in terms of by-elections,” said ZLHR.