The head of the European Union (EU) delegation in Zimbabwe, Timo Olkkonen, has said Zimbabwe needs by-elections to replace recalled Members of Parliament and Councillors.

He said the citizenry should be allowed to choose its representatives.

Olkkonen made the remarks while speaking on HSTV’s FreeTalk on Thursday during which he said Zimbabwe needed a strong opposition if democracy was to thrive. He said:

Having a viable opposition that challenges and questions the government is very important.

So I do recognise those concerns that when you don’t have that kind of an opposition that would have a mandate from elections. It’s an important issue and that’s why I can understand why those statements are being made…

I would not want to go into partisan politics and comment on that. People’s representatives are lacking, which is the case now when the people have been recalled but there is need for a remedy and there will be need for elections, for people to express their will and that is why we hope that the situation will be addressed.

A sustained number of MDC Alliance legislators and councillors was recalled by rival MDC-T led by Douglas Mwonzora for allegedly ceasing to be members of the MDC-T.

MDC Alliance contested the 2018 elections and emerged as the biggest opposition while the MDC-T, then led by Thokozani Khupe, came a distant third.

Ruling on the leadership crisis in the MDC, courts said MDC Alliance was not a party therefore all its members belonged to MDC-T, “the party that gave them the passport into the election.”

The whole issue is convoluted.

Olkkonen’s remarks come amid reports that the European Union and the United States rejected MDC-T leader, Douglas Mwonzora as the leader of the main opposition in the country.

The EU reportedly said Mwonzora did not participate in the 2018 presidential election so he does not have the people’s mandate.

Meanwhile, by-elections have been suspended in Zimbabwe with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission saying the suspension was in line with a directive by the Minister of Health to combat the spread of COVID-19.

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