via Smaller parties scorn poll boycott – New Zimbabwe 14/06/2015
THE country’s smaller opposition parties have vowed to continue taking part in elections shunned by the MDC formations on allegations that the playing field was tilted in Zanu PF’s favour.
Speaking in separate interviews with NewZimbabwe.com weekend, the parties said they were not worried by the bigger opposition’s poll stance as they had a totally different objective.
Democratic Assembly for Restoration and Empowerment (DARE) head of communications, Clemence Nhliziyo, said the quality of an election is not among their immediate concerns, adding they were more interested in gaining experience in elections.
“Participation allows us a chance to observe and expose the bullying tactics by Zanu PF,” he said.
“We can’t cry about quality when we haven’t participated in any election before.
“We will only make noise about this but boycotting without a strategy to bring needed reforms is shooting ourselves in the foot.”
Similarly, Dumiso Dabengwa’s Zapu said they had plenty of worries against the conduct of elections but these were not enough to force a complete stay away.
“We shall participate in future by elections even under the prevailing conditions,” party spokesperson Mjobiza Noko said.
“Participation will help us gauge the penetration levels into the electorate. It will help us realise how much impact we are making there.”
Joe Mugari of the newly formed African Democratic Party said his party would continue taking part even if the urge to snub future polls was being induced by Zanu PF’s bullying tendencies.
He said the violence, pulling down of opponents’ campaign posters and the apparent manipulation of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) were not enough to deter them from participating.
“We need our name to be known. The moment you contest, say in Chiredzi, immediately people would know about us. We are fully interested in participating,” Mugari said.
Mugari also feels any poll boycott strategy by opposition parties would still be countered by the emergence of Zanu PF sponsored candidates to try and give the elections an aura of competition.
Professor Lovemore Madhuku’s NCA even sounded vindictive.
Party spokesperson Madock Chivasa accused their erstwhile comrades in the MDC of betraying the objectives of the opposition’s fight for democracy through jumping into bed with Zanu PF during the GNU period to craft a Constitution which was now biting them.
“We actually see it as hypocritical for them to say ‘we are boycotting elections’ because of the laws that they have authored,” Chivasa said.
“These electoral laws were actually the creation of Zanu PF in connivance with MDC.
“For us in NCA, the only way we can fight the prevailing system is to participate and hopefully get our own numbers in parliament to pursue our cause.”
Although the MDC factions that have boycotted recent by-elections have not yet made any public call for other political parties to follow suit, it is widely felt the impact of the bigger opposition’s poll aloofness was being undermined by the unconditional participation of smaller parties.
The MDCs feel that by snubbing the polls, Zanu PF, which they accuse of manipulating the country’s elections, would give in and open up space for their opponents to bid for office in a free and fair environment.
Zanu PF is adamant the absence of its main challengers in the country’s polls will not delegitimize any election process with party spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo telling NewZimbabwe.com last month that they would not lose sleep over that.
Last week the ruling party snatched 14 seats from the opposition’s traditional strongholds to further consolidate their grip on the local body-politic.