BY EVANS MATHANDA
An election watchdog, the Election Resource Centre (ERC) has described Douglas Mwonzora’s MDC-T as a dangerous political party that is a threat to democracy and constitutionalism in the country.
ERC was responding to calls by the MDC-T for the suspension of both the by-elections and the 2023 general polls in favour of a negotiated settlement with President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Early this week, MDC-T national chairman Morgen Komichi said the 2023 polls were a waste of time and resources, claiming his party’s position was that it was better to negotiate with Mnangagwa.
But ERC said calling for the cancelling of elections was dangerous to constitutionalism and the principles and growth of democracy in the country.
ERC said MDC-T’s calls were “reckless” and should not be entertained.
“Political players like the government, the electoral commission, Parliament of Zimbabwe must make concerted efforts to ensure that such reckless sentiments must never be entertained as they cause disharmony and despondency,” ERC said in a statement yesterday.
“There is an urgent need to implement electoral reforms which are now three years due since the 2018 harmonised elections.”
On June 11, Mnangagwa and Mwonzora held a closed-door meeting at State House in Harare where, among other things, the MDC-T leader pleaded for the scrapping of the pending by-elections for the more than 40 legislative seats and more than 80 council seats triggered by his party’s recall of MPs and councillors belonging to the MDC Alliance led by Nelson Chamisa.
Mnangagwa suspended by-elections citing COVID-19 restrictions and has maintained the ban despite lifting restrictions on almost everything, including opening of bars.
ERC said Mnangagwa was responsible for the country’s bad electoral policies that have led to electoral disputes in the past.
“The President is on record regarding reforms,” ERC said.
“He stated that his administration will ensure the implementation of electoral reforms. However, within less than two years towards the 2023 harmonised elections, the government is silent regarding this important matter. ERC would like to reiterate that electoral reforms are central to any credible election and political stability in Zimbabwe.”
ERC added: “The Office of the President must call for the holding of by-elections in line with Zimbabwe’s constitutional provision section 159.
“Accordingly, the conduct of these by-elections is of paramount importance as it will ensure that all citizens have representation and can play their oversight and legislative roles through their elected leaders at all levels.
“The ERC believes that the resumption of by-elections must be preceded by the implementation of electoral reforms as by-elections without reforms pose a threat to the credibility and acceptability of electoral outcomes.”
The electoral watchdog also called on the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) not to serve the interests of any political party.
“In administering its constitutional mandate to oversee elections, Zec must be impartial and independent. Zec’s activities, decisions and roles must not be influenced by anyone. More so, there ought to be transparency and accountability (responsibility to justify actions or decisions) to citizens, political parties and independent observers,” ERC said.
“Ensuring verifiability (demonstration of accuracy beyond reasonable doubt) and inclusivity (providing equal access) of processes will enhance public confidence in the Commission. These processes extend to voter mobilisation and education, ballot printing, results transmission and political parties and civil society engagement.”
Zec has been accused by opposition parties of serving the interests of Zanu PF.