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ZEC spot on in excluding MDC Alliance

04 Oct 2021 at 04:50hrs | Views
Recently Zimbabweans woke up to a NewsDay story entitled "ZEC bias exposed." The article informed that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) had not invited the Nelson Chamisa-led MDC Alliance (MDC-A) faction for its provisional consultations in provinces on September 30 2021 to discuss electoral developments.

The publication desperately attempted to push the tired and baseless opposition narrative that ZEC was not independent by speculating that the development was driven by a directive from Government, but nothing was further from the truth.

The paper used the fact that the Douglas Mwonzora-led MDC-T was invited to the consultation, to claim an alleged partisan approach on the part of ZEC in dealing with opposition parties.

The paper quoted ZEC's spokesperson, Commissioner Joyce Kazembe who said that "we did not extend our invitation to MDC-A to be part of a stakeholder meeting because the matter regarding the name MDC-A is still before the courts."

The publication contended that the MDC-A had no case before the courts. Case or no case, ZEC was right in excluding the political outfit.

It is now a public secret that there is fierce contestation between the MDC-T and the MDC-A, which is heavily skewed against the latter.

The MDC-A's main arguments are built more on emotions and a sense of entitlement than sound points.

A faction of the MDC-T

The paper conveniently forgot the status of the MDC-A.

In January this year, former Zanu-PF and MDC-A member, Kudakwashe Bhasikiti described Chamisa's political outfit as a faction of the main MDC-T party led by Mwonzora.

Put differently, the MDC-A is not a party anymore. Many will remember that on 31 March last year, the Supreme Court ruled that Chamisa's unorthodox rise to the helm of the party in February 2018 while his predecessor, the body of the late Morgan Tsvangirai still lay in a South African funeral parlour was "irregular." This is the basis of Bhasikiti's position.

The Courts did not just rule Chamisa's position offside. It spelt out the remedial action that was supposed to be taken to regularise the anomaly.

The party was supposed to revert to the October 2014 Congress structures and organise an elective congress to elect new leadership.

Party leadership therefore reverted to Tsvangirai's last congress-elected elected deputy, Dr Thokozani Khupe.

Chamisa had an opportunity to demonstrate that he is a law-abiding lawyer by participating in the congress which Mwonzora, as the 2014 congress secretary general, organised in December 2020.

Mwonzora romped to victory in the internal poll and replaced Dr Khupe as the leader of the party.

Chamisa insisted that his own formation's May 2019 Gweru congress was enough and spurned the Mwonzora-organised congress, which had been ordered by the courts.

No one should blame ZEC for not inviting an opposition party faction that chose to ignore a directive of the Supreme Court of the land. In fact, ZEC did not exclude Chamisa's outfit from its deliberations. Chamisa did so himself by breaking away from the original MDC-T.

Non-existent illegitimacy

The major reason why Chamisa responded big-headedly to the Supreme Court's ruling is because he had already chosen a big-headed attitude to President Mnangagwa after he (Chamisa) lost his 24 August 2018 Constitutional Court election petition.

To this day, over three years later, he still pushes the baseless and unfounded narrative that President Mnangagwa's presidency and administration is illegitimate.

Despite being declared the winner and being confirmed by the Constitutional Court, Chamisa continues to push the illegitimate narrative against the President.

By defying both the Supreme and Constitutional Courts, Chamisa is, in fact, fighting democracy, which he claims to champion.

Democracy does not only consist of the voting process. It also includes supporting key institutions like the Judiciary and the courts of law. No national election management body would take seriously such a politician and the organisation that he represents.

The NewsDay's story brings to the fore, once again, the MDC Alliance faction's double standards. Chamisa insists that President Mnangagwa is in office illegitimately, but his spokesperson, Fadzai Mahere was quoted by the publication complaining over the non-invitation and accusing ZEC of "partisan conduct that serves the interests of the regime in Harare."

When it suits the faction, it regards President Mnangagwa and his Government as illegal, but when it thinks that it can wring some mileage from a ZEC event, it expects an invitation from the Commission.

What is good for the goose should be good for the gander too. One would not expect the MDC-A faction to expect an invitation from a Commission, which operates under a President that it regards as illegitimate.

It is interesting that members of the student activism-inclined faction ended up protesting at the ZEC offices in Harare on the day of the Commission's meeting with opposition parties to wring non-existent political mileage out of such a straightforward issue.

Tracing the roots of the MDC Alliance's exclusion

To understand the issue better, let us trace the origins of the MDC Alliance as a political party.

In 2017 Tsvangirai forged an alliance with seven opposition political parties as a strategy to beat Zanu-PF during the following year's elections.

The coalition was named the MDC Alliance in recognition of the fact that the MDC-T was the dominant party and was the initiator of the project. Right from the beginning, his deputy, Dr Khupe disagreed with the move.

After Chamisa hijacked the MDC-T and used the party's violent vigilante group, the Vanguard, to haunt and hound Dr Khupe out of the party, a new brawl ensued over the party's name and symbols. This forced Chamisa to use the name of the opposition coalition, the MDC-A, as a party name for his outfit for the purpose of contesting the 2018 polls.

So right from the beginning, there were two MDC- A entities — the coalition and Chamisa's splinter party. Therein lie the origins of ZEC's exclusion of the faction from its programmes.

After the 2018 polls, when observers questioned how leaders of other coalition member parties like Tendai Biti's People's Democratic Party (PDP) and Professor Welshman Ncube's MDC-N joined Chamisa's party and even accepted leadership positions, the faction's current secretary general, Chalton Hwende told the world through an August 7 2018 tweet that the MDC A was just an election pact (and not a political party).

He said "now that elections are over individuals are free to join political parties of their choice," to justify the acceptance of people like Biti and Prof Ncube who had left the party after disagreements with Tsvangirai in 2014 and 2005 respectively.

At the end of August, Mwonzora met the leaders of six other opposition parties and revived the original MDC-A opposition coalition.

This effectively meant that Chamisa can no longer continue to use the name MDC- A as a name for his faction, which he insists is a political party.

If this does not constitute a dispute over a party name as Commissioner Kazembe told NewsDay, then one wonders what the paper was driving at.

Time for MDC Alliance faction to choose

The MDC-A faction cannot regard President Mnangagwa as illegitimate, but expect national institutions under his Government to engage it.

The faction cannot continue to blatantly disregard the rulings of Zimbabwe's courts of law in disputes it is involved in and expect everything to go its way. It cannot cling to an opposition coalition name when it split from the dominant party in that coalition.

The faction should be prepared to respect the country's courts of law and the rulings that they give if it expects to be taken seriously as a political player in Zimbabwe's politics.

It has to make the correct decisions if it wishes Government to respect it as an opposition outfit. It cannot have its cake and eat it too.

It cannot engage ZEC through a letter registering its disquiet over the exclusion and go on to dispatch a pack of young yobs to protest at the Commission's offices before the electoral body got a chance to respond.

As the 2023 elections beckon, the electorate should rationally and meticulously assess the calibre of candidates especially those from wish-washy political groupings like the MDC-A faction before voting to ensure that they elect the right candidates to represent them in Parliament and local authorities.

Source - The Herald
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