The MDC-T on Tuesday resolved not to participate in the by-elections for the 14 seats left vacant after the expulsion from Parliament of MPs who defected to the MDC Renewal Team camp, effectively giving away the seats to Zanu PF.
The party was was reportedly quick to replace the seven MPs whose seats fall under the Proportional Representation platform.
Though MDC-T could not immediately confirm the replacements of the seven fired MPs, party spokesperson Obert Gutu said the party had upheld its October 2014 congress resolution not to participate in any general or by-election before implementation of key electoral reforms.
“Our position is clear. We have a congress resolution and we do not vacillate or blow hot and cold. We believe in sticking to principle,” Gutu said.
“The national standing committee met and it was unanimously agreed that we have a resolution of congress and we should not be seen to be blowing hot and cold. We say nothing has changed in as far as the electoral playing field is concerned.”
Gutu claimed that they had gathered intelligence reports that the ruling Zanu PF party had reactivated its poll-rigging machinery and was geared to put it to test at the forthcoming by-elections for Chirumanzu-Zibagwe and Mt Darwin West constituencies on March 27.
“We have discovered shocking inconsistencies. We have impeccable intelligence that points to that Nikuv is alive and kicking and under the payroll of the Zanu PF regime,” Gutu said.
“We will not legitimise the electoral fraud. Until and unless electoral reforms are fully implemented, we will not take part in elections.”
Earlier, MDC-T insiders had confided to NewsDay that there was “war” in the party over whether or not to participate in the by-elections.
MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai was reportedly under pressure over the matter from some quarters who felt the party leadership bungled in dealing with the issue of recalling MPs aligned to the MDC Renewal Team as that had compromised the party’s big tent approach and the possibility of reuniting pro-democratic forces to fight Zanu PF.
“It’s a war. We won’t have reforms in Africa so we are in a dilemma. There is a debate on whether we reverse the congress resolution or not because it will vindicate those who call Tsvangirai unstable,” an impeccable MDC-T insider said.
There were reports on Tuesday that some senior members of the MDC-T were jostling to take up the vacant seats to bring vibrancy to Parliament, but the party had to settle for lesser influential members to avoid a potential rift.
More than half of the party’s standing committee members are not in Parliament including Tsvangirai, national chairman Lovemore Moyo, deputy chairman Morgen Komichi, secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora, treasurer-general Theresa Makone, her deputy Charlton Hwende and Gutu.
It is understood that Yvonne Musarurwa was set to replace Evelyn Masaiti as MP, while David Chimhini was likely to replace Senator Patrick Chitaka in Manicaland.
Makone and Anna Chimanikire were also tipped to get into Senate as proportional representatives. Other constituencies, the source said, were still being debated.