BY REX MPHISA/NQOBANI NDLOVU
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday said by-elections would go ahead even if the opposition boycotts them to protest his failure to implement reforms that would guarantee free and fair polls.
Mnangagwa made the remarks while addressing about 6 000 party supporters in Dulivhadzimo Stadium in Beitbridge. Most of the supporters were bussed from different parts of the province.
Mnangagwa claimed victory was certain for the ruling party.
“We are going to have by-elections in 2022 and tinovasvasvanga (we will trounce them). In 2023, we will then have general elections tovarakasha (we will beat them),” Mnangagwa boasted as the crowd cheered.
“The opposition has hinted that they will boycott the elections, but we will hold them all the same.”
Mnangagwa has said the by-elections will be held during the first quarter of next year.
There are 133 vacant Parliamentary and local government seats following the recall of MDC Alliance legislators and councillors.
Mnangagwa, who was in the border town to preside over the commissioning of 28 houses for civil servants, accused opposition-run councils of failure to provide efficient service.
“We expect local authorities to take the leading role in the provision of houses. We expect them to address housing, but we have no local authorities, they are dead. They should be complementing government in the provision of houses, but both rural and urban local authorities fail,” he said.
While Mnangagwa was addressing the Beitbridge crowd, his spokesperson George Charamba went on Twitter, to claim that the announcement of by-elections by Mnangagwa caught the MDCs by surprise, and unprepared.
“Not only are they unprepared and broke; they mortally fear that a thorough thumping by the ruling Zanu PF will remove the benefit of the doubt on which they hoped to fundraise ahead of 2023,” Charamba said.
“By-election results, particularly margin of defeat and inability to rouse their apathetic supporters will make them un-bankable in the eyes of their Western sponsors. Further, I made the point that those pretending to agitate for the opposition by demanding by-elections, were not only out of touch with the thinking in the opposition; they were actually singing a hymn the opposition does not find melodious. At Kopa in Chimanimani, the President called the bluff and hinted by-elections will come in the first quarter of 2022,” he said.
MDC Alliance spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere said a clear roadmap of reforms was non-negotiable.
“The consistent position that’s been taken by the MDC Alliance is that any proclamation for elections must be accompanied by a clear reform roadmap that paves the way for an undisputed election. The bad governance and legitimacy crisis that continues to plague Mr Mnangagwa’s regime is a direct result of the disputed election of 2018,” Mahere said.
She said the MDC Alliance was unwavering in its call for the alignment of electoral laws with the Constitution, adding that there was need to disband the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.
MDC-T spokesperson Witness Dube said: “It is regrettable that he (Charamba) chose to be verbose to mask Zanu PF’s fear for electoral reforms while totally misrepresenting our position on the same to mean that we are scared of by-elections.”
Mnangagwa was accompanied by Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga, former Vice-President Kembo Mohadi, Defence minister Oppah Muchinguri and several senior government officials.