By-elections divide MDC

Zvamaida Murwira Harare Bureau
THE MDC-T has called for an extraordinary national council meeting this week to decide on whether it should contest the 14 by-elections declared following the expulsion of 21 United Movement for Democratic Change legislators from Parliament a fortnight ago.President Robert Mugabe proclaimed April 16 as the date for the sitting of the Nomination Court and June 10 as the date for the by-elections, should they become necessary.

If no major opposition party contests these by-elections they are likely to be won by default by Zanu-PF which has never failed to field candidates in any election.

Of the 21 seats, the MDC-T will nominate people to fill the seven seats won through proportional representation using the party’s share of the vote in the July 31, 2013, harmonised elections. Vacancies in seats in the Senate and the National Assembly won through proportional representation are automatically filled between elections by the party that won them.
If no major opposition party contests these by-elections they are likely to be won by default by Zanu-PF which has never failed to field candidates in any election.
Zanu-PF has since invited its members interested in contesting the 14 constituency seats to submit their curriculum vitaes by today as preparation for the polls hots up.

The MDC-T is now in a quandary on how to balance its Congress decision not to participate in any election before changes in the law and the need to defend its urban political base which has been its stronghold since the June 2000 elections.

Sources in the MDC-T said the opposition party was divided on whether to boycott and allow Zanu-PF to sweep all the seats or go into the race and fight to retain the constituencies.

MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu said the national council would convene and make a decision.

“In view of the fact that the dates have been proclaimed, the national council will have to meet earlier to make a decision. This is because it’s the only organ mandated to amend, alter or even uphold a decision of congress. Not even the president of the party, secretary general or myself has such powers,” said Gutu.

“We’ve a standing position of congress not to participate in any elections. That can’t be overturned unilaterally. The national council is the highest decision making body in between congress.”

Gutu could not comment substantively on suggestions that there were some in the opposition party advocating participation.

“It’s difficult to get into people’s minds and hearts. if I was a prophet, I would have known,” said Gutu.

Senior officials who spoke to our Harare Bureau said the party found itself in a difficult situation as it did not want Zanu-PF taking over constituencies in Harare perceived to be the party’s stronghold given the inroads the revolutionary party made in the harmonised elections.

“The question is: shall we throw away our seats all in the name of principle. Which is better, to fight and defend our political space or be preoccupied with matters of principle where congress said no reforms, no elections?” asked one senior party official.
Source: Chronicle.


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