BY JEFFREY MUVUNDUSI AND BLESSING MASHAYA
RECALLED MDC legislators are pushing to be allowed to participate in pending by-elections despite their leaders threatening to boycott the special polls pencilled for early next year.
This has created serious differences in the Nelson Chamisa-led faction, to the extent that the group has now been forced to put the issue on the agenda of its next national executive committee meeting scheduled for next Tuesday.
Apart from the affected former Members of Parliament who are itching to get back into the august House, scores of councillors who were also cut loose from their local government seats for siding with Chamisa are also demanding to be given the opportunity to take part in the by-elections.
The faction’s deputy spokesperson, Gift Ostalos Siziba, confirmed next week’s meeting during an address to the media in Bulawayo on Monday evening.
“The party is going to hold its national executive this coming week to deliberate on key national issues, including the by-elections.
“The predominant message around that is what we have said. We have not changed our stance. We believe that people should register in numbers in preparation for the next elections.
“The second thing is that there must be electoral reforms. We are very clear on that issue. We are dealing with that to get reforms and ensure that we go to the next elections with necessary political reforms,” Siziba said.
“So, that position in and around by-elections will be communicated in due course,” he added.
This comes as several former MPs who were recalled by the MDC for standing with Chamisa at the height of the party’s senseless brawling are ratcheting up their push to be allowed to participate in the looming by-elections.
“We are not going to allow a move to boycott the by-elections. We were recalled for standing with Chamisa when he was under fire from (Douglas) Mwonzora.
“We accepted that and lost all of our benefits. Now the party must just allow us to participate so that we can protect some of the little things that we were left with.
“We used our resources in the 2018 elections. So, we want to finish our term. We cannot suffer for only one person (Chamisa) to benefit,” one of the former MPs told the Daily News yesterday.
Another former legislator said they wanted to return to Parliament to push for electoral reforms ahead of the 2023 polls.
“We can fight for electoral reforms effectively when we are in Parliament. If we are outside, we just make noise without any impact.
“We also want the party to protect us on the issue of primary elections. We were elected in 2018 and so we must be allowed to be re-elected and finish our term,” he said.
All this comes as the two main factions of the MDC both say they will consider boycotting next year’s by-elections if authorities do not introduce sweeping electoral reforms by then.
Speaking to the Daily News separately a fortnight ago, the two rival groups said it would be futile to hold the by-elections in the absence of needed reforms, as the outcome of the polls would likely be disputed again.
This came after President Emmerson Mnangagwa recently confirmed that at least 113 National Assembly and local government by-elections would be held during the first quarter of next year.
MDC national chairperson, Morgen Komichi, said the party had no desire to take part in the by-elections without reforms.
“We have said consistently that it will be a waste of time for us to participate in any election without adequate reforms, because the outcome will definitely be disputed in that case.
“The acrimony that would follow that is not good for the country’s image, as well as its development.
“There is no point in participating in an election whose outcome is not accepted and that is why we, as a party, will not tire talking about this.
“We expect everyone in the opposition to do the same. Zanu PF must also be reasonable enough to accept the fact that the electoral disputes that we have endured over the years have not helped their cause either,” Komichi told the Daily News then.
On his part, the secretary for elections for the faction led by Chamisa, Ian Makone, also said that it was in the best interest of the country to ensure that necessary reforms were in place before any polls.
“We call all Zimbabweans to join the campaign for changes that produce incontestable electoral outcomes.
“All credible observer missions’ reports on the 2018 elections highlighted the need for reforms and this should be a national priority,” Makone also said.
Sources told the Daily News then, that the Chamisa faction, in particular, was fearful that the by-elections would also force them to expose their grand electoral strategy for the 2023 national polls, after Mnangagwa indicated last week that Zanu PF would use the by-elections as a litmus test of the ruling party’s capacity to win the all-important national elections.
The threats of the boycott by the two MDC factions prompted Presidential spokesperson George Charamba to claim that the mooted boycott betrayed their fear of receiving a heavy Zanu PF shellacking in the plebiscites.
Writing on Twitter in the wake of the threats of a snub of the impending by-elections, Charamba — who uses the handle @Jamwanda2 — claimed that both groups were in fact angling for another government of national unity (GNU) to avoid a heavy defeat at the polls.
He added that Chamisa was allegedly so desperate for another GNU that he would even be happy to be a junior minister in such an arrangement.
“Havadi maby-elections: A few weeks ago, I tweeted that both opposition factions don’t want by-elections.
“Not only are they unprepared and broke, they mortally fear that a thorough thumping by the ruling Zanu PF will remove the benefit of the doubt on which they hoped to fund-raise ahead of 2023.
“By-election results, particularly the margin of defeat and inability to rouse their apathetic supporters, will make them un-bankable in the eyes of their western sponsors,” Charamba said then.
“Further, I made the point that those pretending to agitate for the opposition by demanding by-elections were not only out of touch with the thinking in the opposition, they were actually singing a hymn the opposition does not find melodious,” he added.
Charamba also said that he found it strange that soon after Mnangagwa announced in Chimanimani recently that by-elections would now be held, the opposition was now mulling a boycott.
This raised “laughable excuses ranging from reforms they don’t spell out, to fear that Zanu PF intends to use impending by-elections as a dry-run for 2023”.
“Of course, Zanu PF will do that!! Why won’t they themselves do the same? Worldwide, which by-election, let alone so many as in our case, is not used as a litmus test by all parties?
“Or where is the fear of such a test a good enough basis for a boycott? … What puerile politics!!!
“This latest indication is and has to be read together with two other developments, one in which the opposition claims direct agency, another done by their loose supporters who seem uninformed, unconnected and de-linked from the pulse in organised, divided opposition.
“First, Chamisa’s poetic or rhapsodic call for talks. Chamisa wants talks, itself not an unusual desire.
“What is unusual about his desire for talks is that it is aimed at suspending 2023 elections, which are a constitutional-must to pave the way for some GNU kind of outfit,” the forthright Charamba said further.
“And so desperate is he for this that he won’t mind even being made a junior minister in the arrangement,” he added. – Daily News