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'Keep Zanu-PF out of Bulawayo,' says Dabengwa

11 May 2015 at 17:17hrs | Views
Statement delivered y Dr. Dumiso Dabengwa, ZAPU President at official launch of by-election campaign, 9th May 2015 at Stanley Hall, Makhokhoba, Bulawayo.

The choice of this venue is not an accident. Stanley Hall here in Makhokhoba is the place where many key events of the nationalist movement took place, in the oldest "township" reserved for Africans by the white racist regime when black people were segregated from living in the "suburbs" of Bulawayo, as the affluent eastern areas were called. It is also a curious coincidence that the by-elections bringing us here today arose from the expulsion of Members of Parliament (MPs) representing areas west of the city in what used to be called "townships": Pumula, Luveve-Cowdray Park, Pelandaba-Mpopoma, Lobengula, and Makhokhoba.

Expulsions not good for the opposition

You will recall that the by-elections came about because internal divisions in the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) led to the recall from Parliament by party leader Morgan Tsvangirai of 14 MPs who identified with the MDC-Renewal Team.  Although it challenged the recall from Parliament the MDC-Renewal lost the legal case on 14 April 2015, just two days before Nominations Court vetted and approved candidates on 16 April as per Government Gazette. To compound the problem thus created, both parts of the MDC family decided not to contest the by-elections, and they were also joined by the MDC led by Professor Welshman Ncube because the latter is in alliance with the MDC-Renewal Team in the United MDC (UMDC) project.

ZAPU's position is simple and straightforward: elections are one of the important and indispensable forms of struggle for democracy and accountability of government. In the case of these by-elections there are four points that we took into account in deciding to participate. First of all, we are not convinced that there was a good reason to recall MPs and risk losses that could result in the loss of some seats to the ruling ZANU-PF when the opposition is already weak in parliament. Secondly, we were not consulted or even officially informed by the MDC family of their decision and reasoning for boycotting the by-elections. Thirdly, the publicly stated reasoning that there should be no participation in by-elections until there is implementation of reforms contained in the new Constitution is weak, because those who held the seats now being contested were elected under these conditions. Fourthly and most critically, ZAPU does not believe that there is anything that can justify donating seats to ZANU by not fight
ing in the by-elections, because elections are one arena of struggle for democracy and good governance.Finally, as things stand there is no other single course of action that, on its own, has a realistic chance of success in removing ZANU-PF from power in the short term.

When the 14 by-elections were promulgated, ZAPU was in the middle of restructuring and strengthening of its structures in all provinces. The leadership decided that the decision whether or not to take part would be left to the affected district structures. In the event the party structures in the Bulawayo constituencies decided to contest and were duly supported by their provincial leadership to fight in all vacancies in the city. If there are any other by-elections we hope that our structures will have completed their re-organization and will be ready to take part. We are getting there, because last Saturday we held the elective conferences of our two wings: the Zimbabwe African Women's Union (ZAWU) and the ZAPU Youth Front (ZYF). Newly elected members of the two organs please stand up and be introduced (Regional Coordinator in the Southern Region or his Director of Administration to read the names).

Fighting to level the playing field
Taking part in elections is not the same thing as accepting the state of things, particularly non-implementation or partial implementation of agreed reforms contained in the new Constitution. One urgent change that is needed is in the compiling and management of the Voters' Roll. ZAPU was in the forefront in fighting for change in the run-up to the 2013 harmonised elections. We got the Voters' Roll analysed and produced preliminary proof that there were irregularities that needed explanation and rectification.

This year, even before the current by-elections were necessitated by fights in the opposition, we resumed the legal fight for a level playing field in elections. As many of you may have heard, we had  a hearing at the High Court on 27 April 2015. Our principal bone of contention then and now  is that there should be non-partisan control of elections and the voting process. A ruling party and its political appointees should not be in control of elections in which it is one of the compet0tors. In Zimbabwe's case, the Registrar General's Office, which is a government department controlled by the Minister of Justice, lacks the autonomy needed for accountability to all stakeholders. Voter registration, compilation of the Voters' Roll as well as control and management of the Voters' Roll should reside completely in the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) as envisaged in the new Constitution.There should be open access and availability of the electronic version of the Voters' Roll, so that searches can show suspicious data entries and multiple voting. Judgement on this crucial case was deferred. There is till ample room for mischief until loopholes I have mentioned in the management of the Voters' Roll are closed.

Our by-election candidates
Let me at this point introduce to you the five people who were either chosen and who accepted the confidence of the party structures in the affected constituencies or themselves offered to stand. Our candidates in the five y-elections in Bulawayo are as follows:
•    Pumula        -    Alderman Batandi Michael Mpofu
•    Luveve        -    Mr AmonDubeNyamambi
•    Lobengula    -    Mr Casper Sibanda
•    Pelandaba-Mpopoma    Dr Strike Mkandla
•    Makhokhoba    -    Mr Jonathan Ndlovu

Keep out ZANU-PF from Bulawayo
I hope that you will maintain the tradition of keeping ZANU-PF from Bulawayo for various reasons. The most important reason is that the city has lost heavily from economic mismanagement that has resulted in de-industrialization and massive unemployment. These days our youths are insulted for migrating to neighbouring countries in search of jobs. The attitude in government amounts to "understanding" the reasons for "Xenophobia" because there is no empathy for the plight of young people who take dirty jobs across our borders in order to support families back home. The insults aimed at Kalangas and other young people in Matebeleland in the last few days are a graphic example of why provinces should have a big say in their development and in finding local solutions to their problems through devolution of power. Thus in addition to showing displeasure at the policies of the ZANU-PF, we should squeeze that party out of various parts of the country and keep them out where they have no grip like in Bulawayo.

Our message is: "Vote for ZAPU candidates on 10 June"! This call is for all our supporters but is a clarion call to all those who want to bring change. We should therefore go out of our way to encourage members of opposition parties that are not fielding candidates to vote for ZAPU. In a way this is what we had in mind when we have been saying that there should be a United Front of opposition parties. If we can pull together now it would be a good start towards a united campaign in the 2018 elections or even before if the current confusion in the corridors of power continues to worsen.

Source - Dr. Dumiso Dabengwa, ZAPU President
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