MDC-T To Reconsider Participation In By-Elections

THE MDC-T’s top executives said they will meet soon to review their congress resolution on participation in by-elections following Tuesday’s expulsion from Parliament of 21 legislators aligned to the breakaway MDC Renewal Team. 

The party had last year resolved not to participate in any future by-elections until its demands for electoral reforms have been implemented.

MDC-T spokesman Obert Gutu told NewsDay on Wednesday that the party’s national executive and national council would meet to discuss the development and make a decision on whether to participate or not in the by-elections to fill the vacant seats in Parliament.

“The top leadership will meet soon after such a significant development to reflect. The national council is the highest decision-making organ of the party in between congresses. It is only the national council that can alter, amend and or set aside resolutions of the congress,” Gutu said.
“It is up to members at the national council meeting to rescind the decision or not. If need be, the matter will be put to a vote,” he said.

The MDC-T is demanding a raft of electoral reforms, among them production of a new voters’ roll, recruitment of new impartial staff at the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and the opening of the public media to opposition political parties.

Gutu also said the expulsion of the 21 rebel MPs had created an opportunity for the public to judge who the real opposition in the country was.

The development has also excited the ruling Zanu PF party which is angling to win all the by-elections and increase its numerical advantage in Parliament.

Information minister Jonathan Moyo was on Tuesday gloating on social media that the expulsion of the former MDC-T legislators had afforded him an opportunity to reclaim the Tsholotsho constituency which had been won by Roseline Nkomo.

President Robert Mugabe is expected to proclaim by-election dates for the vacant seats soon.
Meanwhile, ousted MDC Renewal MPs on Wednesday said they had tasked their lawyers to challenge their expulsion from Parliament on the basis that they were no longer representing the MDC-T while their secretary-general Tendai Biti accused Zanu PF and the MDC-T of colluding to destroy the aspirations of the people.

“The decision that took place on Tuesday is illegal and in this regard, our lawyers in their various teams are in the process of crafting an application at the Constitutional Court to set aside the expulsion that took place in Parliament,” Biti said.

“We want to make it clear that the decision is a heavy blow to democracy and the democratisation agenda in Zimbabwe and will allow the handover to Zanu PF of 17 seats that democratic players used to occupy vigorously in Parliament and to think that the vibrant MPs have been victimised and will not be voicing in Parliament,” he said.

He accused MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai of destroying opposition politics by shutting doors on possible unity for the good of the nation in crisis.

He said the MDC Renewal Team had not formed a different political party, but that two centres of power had emerged in the MDC camp. Biti said the current Zanu PF government was clueless on how to turn around the fortunes of the country and added that Mugabe was no longer fit for the task at hand.

Analyst Blessing Vava said: “The move will only weaken the opposition and allow Zanu PF to recover lost ground ahead of the 2018 elections, thus making it quite difficult for the opposition in general to present a formidable challenge to the ruling party in the coming polls