WITH barely two and half months to go until the national assembly by-elections on March 26, MDC-T leader Douglas Mwonzora has been described as a rank outsider to the contest which analysts agree is a two-horse race between Zanu PF and the opposition led by Nelson Chamisa.
Analysts further say even though Chamisa is yet to come up with a political brand for his candidates to use, the three weeks before the nomination court sits on 26 January were a long time in politics and a lot would have happened by then.
Addressing journalists at a press conference in Masvingo recently, Chamisa himself scoffed at the party name issue saying fighting for names was petty because the electorate was conscious of who they were going to vote for come election time.
“Fighting over names is petty because the people are conscious of the people they need to occupy office. We are not worried about names because you can call a donkey something else but people know that it is a donkey, so whatever they call us we will remain MDC-Alliance because people know their leadership,” Chamisa said.
Political analyst Dr Alexander Rusero said the issue of the name was not critical when it comes to elections saying the Chamisa camp could not be foolish not to know what needs to be done.
“I am sure something is brewing in the Chamisa camp, they cannot be foolish and they will soon produce something that will put the name issue to rest. Even if Mwonzora uses the name MDC Chamisa people will always know what they want,” said Dr Rusero.
Dr Rusero also said Mwonzora had nothing to prove as he has nothing much to offer, with the real battle being left between Chamisa’s party and Zanu PF’s newly elected provincial leaders to prove their strength in mobilizing for the 2023 harmonised elections.
“Mwonzora is just an accident of politics and a spent force, he has nothing to offer, so the election is a real test for Zanu PF’s newly elected provincial leaders’ ability to mobilize for 2023. The new dispensation does not know the culture of elections and still has the 2018 election hangover so this by-election is more about them as the incumbent,” said Dr Rusero.
He went on to say elections were not just there to test the preparedness of the parties but a constitutional matter as well as a yardstick to indicate who the electorate chooses to represent them.
Another political commentator Doctor Wellington Gadzikwa said the by-election will prove who is who between Chamisa and Mwonzora saying the election will set pace for the 2023 elections, with the name issue having the potential to confuse the electorate if both parties decide to go by the same name.
“This is a litmus test for the MDC parties, this is where we are going to see who is who between the two. However, the name issue could bring confusion to the electorate because Mwonzora and team are threatening to use the MDC-Alliance name and there could be minor differences,” said Dr Gadzikwa.
A total of 28 seats are vacant in parliament and 105 in local authorities, with most of them being recalls by Mwonzora’s MDC-T which saw all elected officials loyal to Chamisa’s MDC-Alliance being purged from public office.
There seems to be a strong inclination to Chamisa using the Citizens Convergence for Change (CCC) as some of his support base has hinted that in both mainstream and social media. Others are pushing for Citizens Action for Change (CAC).
When asked for comment on the state of preparedness and party name issue however, MDC-Alliance spokesperson Advocate Fadzai Mahere said they will reveal the party’s position at the right time.
“At the appropriate time, we will set our position to the people,” said Mahere.