Zimbabwe’s by-elections a litmus test for Chamisa

By Almot Maqolo

The impending by-elections to fill vacancies in Parliament and local authorities occasioned by the recalls of incumbents by the MDC-T will be a litmus test for Nelson Chamisa who is under siege from Thokozani Khupe and her allies.

Ever since the March 30 Supreme Court ruling which nullified the ascendency of Chamisa to replace the late former MDC-T president Morgan Tsvangirai in 2018 and appointed her interim leader, Khupe has been on the rampage, recalling more than 20 MDC Alliance Members of Parliament, who refused to pledge allegiance to her.

Khupe has also recalled more than 100 councilors, including three mayors, accusing them of crossing the floor.<br>Together with her secretary general Douglas Mwonzora, Khupe has been accused of fronting a Zanu PF project to annihilate the MDC and end the political career of Chamisa ahead of general elections due in 2023.

MDC-T spokesperson Kalipani Phugeni dismissed allegations of pursuing a Zanu PF agenda saying the party was geared for by-elections and the matter would be settled by the people. Phugeni said the narrative that the MDC-T was working with Zanu PF to annihilate the MDC Alliance was baseless as the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) had made an announcement for by- elections.

Recently, ZEC lifted the suspension of elections and said it will soon announce dates for holding of by-elections which would be held in accordance with health and safety guidelines to curb the spread of Covid-19.

The electoral body has indicated that the by-elections would start in December under stricter measures to ensure safety of voters and its staff. However, analysts say the recent loss of an MDC-T candidate to the one from the MDC Alliance in the contest to replace recalled Harare mayor Herbert Gomba was a sign of what lay ahead as the electorate would stick to their embattled party.

MDC Alliance has insisted that the by-elections would end the chaos. “We will end this Zanu PF-Mwonzora-Khupe axis of madness by restoring the people’s will in an election,” said MDC Alliance secretary for presidential affairs, Jameson Timba. Meanwhile Khupe, who won 45 000 votes in the 2018 Presidential election against 2 million for Chamisa who narrowly lost to President Emmerson Mnangagwa, has since sent names of her party candidates to ZEC to replace 15 Senate and Proportional Representation legislators whose seats, in terms of the law, are filled by the party which initially seconded them Parliament. Khupe included herself and Phugeni among the candidates she sent to ZEC.

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