12 April 2017
HARARE – The country’s disjointed opposition parties should draw lessons
from the recently-held Mwenezi by-elections that Zanu PF will not reform
itself out of power, but will instead push for elections under conditions
that guarantee its victory.
While the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
led by Morgan Tsvangirai, boycotted the polls in line with its “no
reforms, no elections” stance, the two smaller parties that participated
were given a thorough hiding by Zanu PF which polled 18 700 votes while
their combined figures were less than 1 000 and both were less than the
There is a real danger that failure by the country’s over 50 opposition
political parties to unite and speak with one voice could be a gift for
Zanu PF, because if some parties insist on participating in the next year
elections even in the absence of key benchmarks to ensure free and fair
elections, then they would lend credibility to the whole charade and thus
legitimise Zanu PF rule.
We are aware that in Mwenezi East, a downtrodden remote area, the
villagers were intimidated and enticed with foodstuffs.
We are also aware of the disturbing trend that started in 2013 where a
large number of people are assisted to vote, never mind our 91 percent
Zanu PF might be experiencing internal upheavals spurred by President
Robert Mugabe’s old age and the natural succession question, but as
history has taught us – faced with the opposition – the ruling party
What more, its victory has little to do with its commissariat but the
well-oiled State machinery at its disposal.
So the glaring irregularities in Mwenezi are to us a microcosm of the
macrocosmic 2018 election where stakes will be undoubtedly higher as the
ruling party will presumably go a gear up in trying to maintain its grip
Thus we would like to call upon the country’s opposition to be wary of
fly-by-night parties that might rock the boat and create discord in their
calls for electoral reforms.
It is predictable, given the multiple opposition parties that litter the
country’s political arena, that come the penultimate test in 2018 some
would muddy the waters and plunge into the polls even if the outcome would
We believe the country must reform the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission
which, up until now, is packed with characters with links to the country’s
security establishment and it must be reformed.
The voters’ roll must be accessible and affordable and vote-buying should