BY SILAS NKALA
THE Nelson Chamisa-led MDC Alliance yesterday admitted that the country’s opposition parties wasted a golden opportunity to push for wide-ranging political, economic and electoral reforms when they were part of the government of national Unity (GNU) between 2009 and 2013.
The party’s Matabeleland North provincial chairperson Prince Dubeko Sibanda said it was now difficult for the opposition to push for reforms while outside government.
Sibanda, who is MDC Alliance MP for Binga North and chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Information, Media and Broadcasting Services, made the remarks during a virtual conference on parliamentary perspectives on electoral reforms.
The meeting, which also looked at the role of civic society in pushing for reforms, was organised by the Matabeleland-based civic organisation, Rural Community Empowerment Trust.
“I totally agree that we missed an opportunity during GNU when we controlled the levers of power that we should maybe have exerted more pressure on Zanu PF to have all these things reformed,” Sibanda said.
Participants urged the opposition to change its strategies for it to effectively lobby for reforms since the political playfield had tilted in favour of the ruling Zanu PF party.
“I think there is a need to change strategy for influencing electoral reforms. As long as the push for reforms is coming from the opposition political parties, there is bound to be resistance,” said one participant.
Sibanda said the envisaged reforms should ensure that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) does not report to the Justice minister, but to Parliament.
He added that the reforms were not targeted at removing Zanu PF from power, but to level the playfield.
“I think that is what we need to do, that’s what other democracies if you look at all other countries, their electoral laws and systems are not meant to favour a person who is in power, it is meant to give the citizens a fair chance to say whoever they want should be the one in power.”
Sibanda said as MDC Alliance they would continue lobbying for reforms through Parliament, local authorities, international community as well as civic society.