US slams MDC-T poll boycott

via US slams MDC-T poll boycott – NewsDay Zimbabwe July 1, 2015

ZIMBABWEAN opposition parties must participate in elections than grumble from the sidelines, a senior United States Congressman said this week.


In what seemed to be confirmation of the US’s growing displeasure at opposition strongman Morgan Tsvangirai’s leadership style, Gregory Simpkins, a director in the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organisations, said local opposition parties cannot criticise a system that they were not part of.

Tsvangiria’s MDC-T party has declared it will not take part in any polls without electoral reforms amid reports that the veteran trade unionist had fallen out of favour with most of his party’s Western funders.

“Oftentimes we have heard the opposition saying it is tough to compete, they have to find a way of being effective rather than just saying it is too tough to compete so we are not going to take part. If you do not take part in an election process, how can you criticise something that you did not even test?” Simpkins queried.

“When you test the process you can say we tried to register our candidates or observers were turned away, you can point to examples. If you are not a part of it at all, then it is as good as there is no opposition.”

Tsvangirai has been battling to ward-off criticism of his decision with accusations he literally donated 16 parliamentary seats to Zanu PF in last month’s by-elections triggered by his recall of “rebel MPs”.

Simpkins is part of a two-man US Congress delegation currently in the country on an “investigatory mission” to find ways of mending relations between Harare and Washington.

“For us sometimes the Democratic Party or the Republican Party is successful, sometimes they are partially successful. When we lose we do not take to the streets, we do not always go to the courts, we do not get angry, but we go back, consider what happened and prepare for the next election and that is what you have to do,” he said.

He also said the US political system was not built on personalities.

“However, when you start a political party in a country that is relatively new, very often the personalities override the ideology of the party, people vote for the person, ethnic groups. You feel that you started something and think that you best understand how things are supposed to be done, but over time you realise that does not work,” he said.

“It takes time and African countries are not going to do that overnight either. It takes time for people to realise that it is not all about me.

“I think there is a lot of frustration on losing elections and the thinking that the people leading the party are not serving their interests so they leave thinking they can do it better.”

He said it was important for leaders who would have failed in elections to give way for others to try.


  • comment-avatar
    Adam Jones 7 years ago

    If this bagger really thinks one needs to test zanu then he is deluded. MDC are part of the fight for our liberation and by boycotting, are landing a blow to zanu. We have voted and won by 73% of the vote but zanu stole the vote. To say MDC must continue to in a fraud is madness. So the American is mad.

  • comment-avatar
    Rwendo 7 years ago

    How do two members of a US Congress delegation attempting to normalize relations with Zimbabwe become portrayed as representing “US” policy on this matter? In addition, these two clearly have no idea what they are talking about, as they attempt to equate their US election experiences with elections ZANU PF-style. Try the Senate (Committee on Foreign Relations) or the Secretary for State (let alone Obama) for a more meaningful reflection on US policy on this.

    The MDC is merely catching up with the electorate which (outside the coerced rural areas) increasingly ignores voting in a fixed system. The voting lines in Harare were significantly shorter in 2013 than they were in 2008.

    The one useful statement ascribed to this visiting team was: “….. it was important for leaders who would have failed in elections to give way for others to try.”

  • comment-avatar
    Fundani Moyo 7 years ago

    It’s important for Zimbabweans to know that the right to vote is a “basic” right. Men and women lost their lives fighting for a right to vote. It is one thing for a politician to campaign and ask for people to vote for him/her, and it’s another for one to ask people to boycott an election particularly when that boycott leaves your adversary rubbing hands with glee. One does not need an American to underline the importance of the vote; however this particular reminder of the importance of one’s vote and the source of that reminder could not have been more appropriate coming from someone whose people were once in history forbidden from voting, but now their clammer to exercise that right, coupled by their active participation in the process, has landed one of their own in the White House. The problem with Tswangirayi is that he was naive to believe that his Monday teas with RGM during the GNU would translate into policy changes by ZPF. He should have demanded reforms then instead of wasting peoples’ time.