FORMER Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC-T policy shifts on by-elections came under the spotlight again yesterday, as the party reverted to its long-standing resolution of boycotting all polls until the Zanu PF government has acceded to demands for electoral reforms.
Source: MDC-T in poll U-turn, again – NewsDay Zimbabwe October 31, 2016
by PAIDAMOYO MUZULU
The decision came barely a week after the MDC-T broke its 2014 congress resolution and rallied its supporters to back independent candidate, Temba Mliswa, who subsequently romped to victory after thumping Zanu PF candidate, Ronald Chindedza, in a by-election that was heavily tilted in favour of the ruling party.
Mliswa has publicly attributed his victory to the support he received from the MDC-T, Tendai Biti’s People Democratic Party (PDP) and war veterans.
Soon after his electoral victory, Mliswa paid an impromptu visit to Tsvangirai’s home to pay tribute to the MDC-T leader for lending him support in a by-election, where odds were stacked against him.
But in a major policy shift, MDC-T spokesperson, Obert Gutu yesterday ruled out lending support to any of the opposition or independent candidates contesting against Zanu PF’s Nokuthula Matsikenyere in the forthcoming Chimanimani West by-election slated for November 26.
“Our resolution that no reforms, no elections still stands. Thus, we will not be in Chimanimani,” he said.
Gutu could not explain the party’s policy shift.
“Our position is that we follow the party resolution and it is still standing,” he said.
This is not the first time that the MDC-T has had policy inconsistencies.
In 2005, the party split after Tsvangirai went against the majority of his leadership and pulled out of the Senate election.
In 2011, Tsvangirai again had to fight internal fissures after it emerged at congress that the party’s constitution had been “tinkered” with and a clause allowing a two-term limit for the presidency secretly removed.
PDP secretary-general, Gorden Moyo said his party would decide on whether to support any one of the candidates after a review of the Chimanimani West by-election case.
“We review on a case by case basis and see if there is a possibility of cracking Zanu PF. If there is value, we put our pressure, but we have not yet sat down to review this particular case,” he said.
“By-elections are not an important area of focus for our party. While we appreciate cracking Zanu PF, our real focus is on the holistic programme of reforms, that is electoral reforms, State institutions as well as the economic reforms.”
Zanu PF’s Matsikenyere will face off Peter Gudyanga (Renewal Democrats of Zimbabwe), Pesanai Musakwa (National Constitutional Assembly) and independent candidate, Edmore Mtetwa.
The Chimanimani West seat fell vacant following a Zanu PF decision to expel and subsequently recall former minister, Munacho Mutezo, for fraternising with former Vice-President Joice Mujuru’s Zimbabwe People First (ZimPF) party.
The Chimanimani by-election comes amid speculation of a possible conglomeration of opposition forces to field a single candidate to challenge Mugabe in the 2018 presidential race.
The proposed grand coalition has, however, been hamstrung by mistrust among opposition leaders, with Mujuru and Tsvangirai already said to be jostling for the top post ahead of the signing of the agreement.
RDZ spokesperson, Pishai Muchauraya said his party was confident of winning the by-election and had resolved to approach individual opposition officials to support its candidate.
“Yes, we are in it and for a big fight. We are engaging them as individuals for their support during the by-elections,” he said.