THE MDC Renewal Team was this week thrown into turmoil after the party’s Bulawayo provincial chairperson, Amen Mpofu, threw in the towel because of disagreements over the party’s decision to boycott the upcoming by-elections.
Mpofu’s shock resignation, a few months after he was elected chairperson, thrust the year-old party into panic and dampened its bid to claim Bulawayo province, which has been a prized bastion of support for the rival Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) led by Morgan Tsvangirai.
Mpofu, a former deputy mayor for Bulawayo, was earlier this year elected provincial chairman following the resignation of Kucaca Phulu who wanted to concentrate on his work full-time.
Mpofu’s surprise resignation was in protest over the MDC Renewal Team’s decision to boycott by-elections in 14 constituencies, set for June 10.
“I’m no longer part of MDC Renewal Team, but I still respect them. I quit because I am an honest person who isn’t power-hungry. I couldn’t continue working with people whom I don’t share the same views with,” he said.
“The issue to boycott elections primarily drove me to making this decision. The seats aren’t for individuals; they belong to the people who vote…I didn’t want to contest in the election, but the people who previously had seats were supposed to contest and reclaim their seats and finish their terms,” he added.
The boycott of the polls which dovetails with a stance adopted by the entire pool of main opposition parties, has left wide open the doors for Zanu(PF) to gain a foothold in Bulawayo, which has been rejecting President Robert Mugabe’s party for the past 15 years.
The MDC-T led by Tsvangirai, Welshman Ncube’s splinter MDC and Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn party headed by Simba Makoni are all not participating in the polls.
It is only Dumiso Dabengwa’s ZAPU and a handful of other fringe opposition parties such as Transform Zimbabwe and the National Constitutional Assembly, which are swimming against the tide by participating in the by-elections.
The recall of 21 MDC Renewal Team legislators from Parliament by the MDC-T precipitated the mini-polls set for June.
Out of the 21 vacant seats, seven of them will be filled through proportional representation.
The MDC Renewal Team, which is led by Sekai Holland in the interim, said it would not participate in the polls on grounds that the electoral playing field was uneven and favoured a ZANU-PF victory.
Meanwhile, the MDC-T has taken its “No elections without reforms” campaign rallies to Bulawayo, the heartland of the Matabeleland region.
At the rallies, Tsvangirai sought to inform his supporters why the party leadership had decided not to take part in the elections and urged members to spoil ballot papers if they were forced to go and vote on June 10.
“As a party, we have vowed not to participate in future elections even if it means giving Zanu(PF) all the parliamentary seats available because we cannot be seen to be giving legitimacy to a flawed system which (President) Mugabe has made sure no other party, other than Zanu(PF), wins,” Tsvangirai said.
“We have demanded bio-metric voters’ registration as is practised in other countries in the region to avoid vote-rigging, but our demands have been ignored until we, as a party, became so exasperated with Zanu(PF)’s attitude towards electoral reforms. We have vowed that the party will never participate in elections of any form without reform.”