Voter Apathy Storms Zimbabwe’s By-Elections Across Nine Constituencies

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Zimbabwe held special elections on Saturday for nine seats in Parliament after opposition lawmakers were removed from their positions and disqualified from running again.

The opposition called it an illegal push by the ruling ZANU-PF party to bolster its parliamentary majority and possibly change the constitution.

This may allow President Emmerson Mnangagwa, 81, who was re-elected for a second and final term in August amid international and regional criticism, to run for another term.

All nine opposition lawmakers from the Citizens Coalition for Change party that were removed were elected in the national vote in August.

But an official claiming to be the secretary-general of the party recalled them from their positions in the weeks after that election.

CCC leader Nelson Chamisa said the official, Sengezo Tshabangu, held no position with the party and his instructions should be ignored.

But Zimbabwean courts recognized Tshabangu’s authority, ruled to remove the opposition MPs and declared them on Thursday ineligible to run.

“This is not an election. This is not democracy,” opposition deputy spokesperson Gift Ostallos Siziba told The Associated Press.

Another late-night court ruling Friday left the ZANU-PF candidate set to win one of the seats in the capital, Harare, uncontested.

The CCC said on the eve of the special elections that it had launched an appeal with the Supreme Court, demanding that eight of its candidates appear on the ballots.