Sunday 4 April 2021


THE MDC Alliance says it will fight to keep its name ahead of possible by-elections to replace its recalled legislators and councillors, or risk allowing impunity to reign unchecked.

Speaking to NewsDay yesterday, opposition MDC Alliance secretary-general Chalton Hwende said they would not allow the ruling Zanu PF to steal its name through a proxy, Douglas Mwonzora and his MDC-T party.

He said allowing Mwonzora to claim the MDC Alliance name was tantamount to allowing rigging. “Why allow them to rig? We are fighting to reclaim everything, including the 2018 victory,” Hwende said.

“Our position is clear that we are the MDC that was founded in 1999 and participated in the last elections as MDC Alliance. That is our name, that is our history and it holds our values as a party.”

He added that if his party changed its name, then the elections would be stolen. The MDC Alliance secretary-general said his party would not abandon its name, adding that it was prepared to fight the system.

“If we surrender the name, the thief will come again and steal more from us and, therefore, we will have to continue fighting. It is our name, why should we abandon it? Mwonzora is just an accessory to the theft and we are not even worried about him. We want to deal with the real thief,” he said.

Hwende also said the MDC Alliance would, as a way of protest, boycott by-elections if it was blocked from using its party name.

His statement comes after Mwonzora’s MDC-T last month claimed that it would contest the yet-to-be-announced by-elections as MDC Alliance, a move likely to confuse opposition voters and advantage the ruling Zanu PF party.

Hwende yesterday insisted that Mwonzora’s MDC-T was working in cahoots with Zanu PF to destroy their movement.

He said the Nelson Chamisa-led party would not participate in any by-election if it was forced to abandon its name, but would keep fighting for electoral reforms to ensure a level playing field.

“There won’t be any by-election that will be allowed to take place without the MDC represented by advocate Nelson Chamisa,” he said.

“We are Zimbabweans, we are protected by the Constitution and (President Emmerson) Mnangagwa is determined to (make) our party (extinct). We are not going to allow them. This is a fight that we are prepared for and if you allow dictators to steal your name and you force yourself to participate in that sham election, what guarantee do you have that your election result will not be stolen?

“We don’t participate in elections for purposes of fulfilling a ritual. We participate because we believe in democracy and so there will be no elections, and they must not fool themselves. If they call for by-elections, Zec [Zimbabwe Electoral Commission] must facilitate participation of the MDC Alliance as led by Advocate Nelson Chamisa.”

Zanu PF recently rubbished claims that it was working with Mwonzora to obliterate the MDC Alliance, saying the opposition should solve its internal problems.

Hwende is among the more than 40 MPs that were recalled by the MDC-T. About 80 councillors were also recalled. The country awaits by-elections to replace the MDC Alliance recalled MPs and councillors, but Zec yesterday said it would remain guided by the legal framework and the Health ministry regulations on conducting of by-elections.

In a statement, Zec chief elections officer Utoile Silaigwana said while the rights and freedoms for citizens are enshrined in the Constitution, which include the right to elect leaders of their own choice, there were also limits imposed on such rights.

“Section 86 of the Constitution limits freedoms in the interest of public safety, public health and the general interest of the public. Where such rights are limited through a statutory instrument and which instrument has not been set aside by a court of law, the commission has no right to disregard lawful obligations.

“On March 1, 2021, the Ministry of Health and Child Care relaxed these measures and subsequently, the commission also announced the resumption of some electoral activities such as voter registration and transfers while by-elections remain suspended since some lockdown measures of Statutory Instrument 10 of 2021 are still in force,” Silaigwana said.

United Kingdom-based lawyer Alex Magaisa, however, said there was no legal basis to justify the continued suspension of by-elections.

“It’s the illegality that bothers me. Zec chief elections officer can justify the suspension of by-elections all he likes, but he should not use false legal grounds. The real issue is that section 158(3) imposes a mandatory duty to hold by-elections within 90 days of a vacancy occurring. The words are polling ‘must take place’ in that period, there is no room for exception in that provision,” Magaisa said. Newsday


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