Home » Governance » MDC-T in Catch-22 Situation

MDC-T has called for an extraordinary national council meeting this week to decide on whether or not it should contest the 14 by-elections declared following the expulsion of 21 United Movement for Democratic Change-linked legislators from Parliament two weeks ago after MDC-T officially said they no longer represented the party.

President Mugabe has since 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, MDC-T will nominate people to fill 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 Senate and the National Assembly won through proportional representation are automatically filled between elections by the party that won them.

Zanu-PF has since invited its members interested in contesting the 14 constituency seats to submit their curriculum vitaes by today as preparations for the polls hot up. 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 ghold since the June 2000 elections.

Sources in MDC-T said the 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 Mr Obert Gutu said the national council will convene and make a determination.

“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 is 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 Mr Gutu.

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

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

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

Senior officials who spoke to The Herald 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 ghold 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?” said one senior party official.

Meanwhile, Zanu-PF Harare province has since stepped preparations for the six by-elections in the province, almost half the total.

Zanu-PF Harare province political commissar Cde Shadreck Mashayamombe said preparations were at an aanced stage.

“Our target is to win all the seats. We have already invited our members interested to submit their CVs. The criteria to be used is the same as that existed during the 2013 harmonised elections,” said Cde Mashayamombe, who is also Harare South MP.

“We have started lining up our supporters, conducting verification of our structures in those areas where there will be by-elections.”

The 14 by-elections will be contested on the same day with those in Headlands and Hurungwe West that seek to replace expelled Zanu-PF legislators, Messrs Didymus Mutasa and his nephew Temba Mliswa

The 17 members that were expelled from the National Assembly are Tendai Biti (Harare East), Willias Madzimure (Kambuzuma), Lucia Matibenga (Kuwadzana East), Paul Madzore (Glen View), Reggie Moyo (Luveve), Solomon Madzore (Dzivarasekwa), Bekithemba Nyathi (Mpopoma Pelandaba), Albert Mhlanga (Pumula), Moses Manyengavana (Highfield West), Samuel Sipepa Nkomo (Lobengula), Roseline Nkomo (Tsholotsho North), Settlement Chikwinya (Mbizo), Gorden Moyo (Makokoba) and Arnold Tsunga (Chikanga Dangamvura).

Those who got in the National Assembly through proportional representation and were also booted out are Evelyn Masaiti, Judith Muzhavazhe and Gladys Mathe.

Those who lost their seats in the Senate are Sekai Holland, Rorana Muchihwa (Harare Metropolitan), Watchy Sibanda (Matabeleland South) and Patrick Chitaka (Manicaland).

The MDCs have been rapped after their boycott of by-elections to fill seats that fell vacant following the recall or death of Zanu-PF and MDC-T MPs.

Political analysts said the stance taken by the MDCs, was surprising given that they, along with Zanu-PF, participated in the biggest reform since independence, the authorship and adoption of the new Constitution which offers the framework for all the by-elections.

The three parties also negotiated the Electoral Act which governs the conduct of the elections.

More so, political analysts said, any reforms the parties may be hankering for can only come through Parliament in which representation and numbers are essential to push through any changes to the laws.

Source : The Herald