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By-elections spook opposition

by Staff reporter
17 Nov 2021 at 05:12hrs | Views
PROSPECTS of by-elections in the first quarter of next year have spooked the broke and divided MDC-Alliance led by Mr Nelson Chamisa, which is now threatening to boycott the polls for alleged absence of electoral reforms.

This comes as President Mnangagwa recently hinted that the by-elections, which have been necessitated largely by internecine wars in the opposition, could be held next year.

However, instead of warming up to the impending polls, the MDC-A is now threatening to boycott the polls in a somersault move that political observers say contradicts their earlier stance that the ruling party Zanu-PF was using the Covid-19 pandemic to postpone the by-elections indefinitely.

Altogether there are 133 elective by-elections for both National Assembly and the Local Authorities most of which arose when the Supreme Court ruled that Mr Chamisa was not the legitimate leader of the opposition.

The ruling triggered a mass culling of his loyalists by the rival faction led by Mr Douglas Mwonzora, which now calls the shots in Parliament.

Yesterday, Zanu-PF acting Secretary for Information and Publicity Dr Mike Bimha said the revolutionary party is geared for the by-elections and will use them as a dry run ahead of 2023 harmonised elections regardless of attempts by the opposition to cast aspersions in the process.

"Zanu-PF is geared to participate in any election since it is our democratic right. We went to war to exercise our rights, so we can't afford to lose sleep because some people choose to boycott the elections," he said.

Political analyst Mr Gibson Nyikadzino said the flip-flopping in the MDC demonstrates a party that is not only confused but is also fearful of the outcome of the by-elections, an outcome which would demonstrate their shrinking support base.

"The upcoming by-elections are based and informed on the science of vaccine uptake, the improved numbers, and the recommendations by WHO that Zimbabwe is well ahead of other countries. So out of these, the MDC of Chamisa is already trying to seek a pretext that elections won't be free and fair even at a preparatory stage to cover for their weaknesses and unpreparedness. This is not new.

"It is their trick they have employed before but without success. Remember they did the same after 2017 when they said we need a transitional government. The same happened in 2013 when they said the nation wasn't ready. But the constitutionality and legality that comes with the holding of by-elections do not stop because the MDC of Chamisa has pressed a panic button on the rhetoric of electoral reforms.

"The opposition since time immemorial has lived with a phantom picture that they are formidable, yet they are irrelevant. They know they cannot stand the organisation and competence of Zanu-PF. They have legislators in Parliament who are not contributing to that debate on electoral reforms, they denounced the POLAD platform for engagement which is an opportunity for political leaders to deliberate on issues that need attention. Remember, they are also not ready because of their squabbles with Mwonzora's MDC-T about their names. So the reality is they have shot themselves in the foot. They should know there is no second place in politics," said Mr Nyikadzino.

Academic and researcher Mr Alex Manyonga weighed in saying he expected the MDC-A to be excited by the prospect of by-elections as that is what they have always been clamouring for.

"There was a plenitude of discontent in opposition formations especially the MDC Alliance when all electoral activities were muted in the wake of a nauseating enemy in the face of Covid-19. Such a Government position triggered agitating voices from the opposition, mainly MDC Alliance.

"The Second Republic was branded a political coward, hiding behind Covid-19 to starve the opposition of a chance to regain the seats for the recalled members. Now that Covid 19 viciousness has subsided and the window for the clamoured for by-elections have been, opened all political formations are expected to cheer up and brace for the political race.

"Surprisingly, the MDC Alliance formation led by Nelson Chamisa is planning a by-election boycott. It needs to be noted that the purported dark cloud of Covid-19 that was accused of hovering over the conducting of by-elections has cleared. As such, it is now time for different political formations to test their political menthol ahead of the 2023 harmonised elections.

"The decision by the opposition formation to boycott the elections, therefore, bears testimony of elections phobia in the opposition camp. The anthem during the hostile Covid-19 times was that President Mnangagwa was afraid of by-elections. However, the intended boycott affirms that the reverse is the case. It points to the fact that the opposition formations are afraid to expose themselves. A boycott will be testimony that the socio-economic developments across the country as spearheaded by the Second Republic might have scared the opposition who fear being humiliated. In political circles, no one can strategise for an adversary. As such a boycott by the MDC Alliance will be a plus on the party of Zanu-PF and other competing parties. At the same time, it will be a political own goal on the part of the opposition," he said.

Pointing to the MDC-A previous stance in 2018 that ‘winners don't quit' and that ‘we can't boycott our victory', Mr Munyonga said if the MDC A boycotts the polls it will be a sign that things have fallen apart in the opposition despite the feigned bravado.

Source - The Herald