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March 26 by-elections: Time is not on Chamisa’s side

OPPOSITION gladiator Nelson Chamisa has a tough decision in the next three weeks ahead of the sitting of the nomination court on Wednesday January 26.

President Emmerson Mnangagwe issued a proclamation in a statutory instrument published Thursday setting Saturday, March 26 as the date for 28 parliamentary by-elections which have been outstanding.

After the proclamation, a rival opposition group, the MDC-T through its spokesman Witness Dube quickly announced that the party would use the MDC Alliance name in the by-elections.

“The MDC-T is the leader of the MDC Alliance electoral pact which still subsists up to today. In the upcoming by-elections, there are constituencies belonging to our Alliance partners PDP and we intend to honour that agreement,” said Dube.

The MDC Alliance led by Chamisa, while pushing a brand called Citizens Action for Change, is keeping its cards close to the chest regards the name change, but time is not on their side.

Irritated party supporters are wondering for how long the party can keep everyone guessing considering that the nomination court sits at 10AM on 26 January and there might not be enough time for the electorate to familiarize with the name that will be settled upon.

MDC Alliance spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere said: “At the appropriate time, we will set our position to the people.”

She maintained that their key priority was electoral reforms to guarantee free and fair elections.

“We reiterate our call for the alignment of electoral laws to the Constitution.

“We also demand the full implementation of existing electoral laws especially as they pertain to state media, the full disbandment of the partisan and militarised ZEC secretariat and full reform of the commission itself as we set out in our draft Electoral Amendment Bill and our Electoral Reform document, PRICE, that sets out in detail the principles that must be observed for a credible election.

“We demand bona fide engagement with ZEC which has a constitutional duty to engage major stakeholders with a view to ensuring electoral reforms are implemented. To set an election date without addressing the vexed electoral reforms question is to put the cart before the horse. The need for reforms is non-negotiable.”

Zimbabwe had postponed the holding of the by-elections citing the Covid-19 pandemic.

The vacant parliamentary seats are Pumula, Nkulumane, Epworth, Gokwe Central, Glen Norah, Harare Central, Highfield East, Highfield West, Kuwadzana East, Mufakose, St Marys, Kambuzuma, Harare East, Dangamvura Chikanga, Mutasa South, Marondera Central, Chivi South, Binga North, Mkoba, Mbizo, Kuwadzana, Glen View North, Marondera East, Murewa South, Mwenezi East, Tsholotsho South, Kwekwe and Mberengwa South.

President Mnangagwa, however, did not set date for the council by-elections.

Most of the vacancies were created by the MDC-T party after it recalled dozens of elected MDC Alliance MPs and councillors following a March 2019 Supreme Court ruling that Chamisa’s elevation to lead the MDC-T party a year earlier was unlawful.

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