Mugabe in poll gamble

The two MDC formations on Friday welcomed indications that President Robert Mugabe will order by-elections in 38 vacant constituencies, saying they are ready for the polls.

Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa told the Senate on Thursday that the by-elections would be held before the end of the year following a Supreme Court ruling last week ordering Mugabe to call for House of Assembly polls in Bulilima East, Lupane East and Nkayi South.

This was after former MPs Njabuliso Mguni, Abedinico Bhebhe and Norman Mpofu dragged the veteran ruler to court for delaying the by-elections. 

Chinamasa said instead of confining the elections to the three constituencies, Mugabe would call for harmonised polls to fill vacant posts in the Senate, House of Assembly and local councils. 

Analysts yesterday said Zanu PF would try to use the polls to test the mood in the country ahead of a crucial general election due before June next year. 

Douglas Mwonzora, MDC-T spokesperson, told NewsDay that although it was not Chinamasa’s role to announce when elections would be held, his party was ready to contest in the by-elections if they were held in a free and fair environment.

“First of all, it is not Chinamasa who has the responsibility of announcing when and where elections will be held,” he said.

“He is not the President of Zimbabwe nor is he the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, so what he has said must be taken for what it is: a statement of wish by a Zanu PF functionary. 

“Having said that, the MDC is not worried over whether the elections will be held in three constituencies or in 38. The MDC is insisting that it is ready for elections at any time.” 

He said the elections must be free and fair without any political violence.

“For as long as that is done, we are ready for elections at any time and we will win those elections,” Mwonzora said.

“These elections will test the sincerity of the parties in the GPA (Global Political Agreement), especially Zanu PF and Mugabe.”

Kurauone Chihwayi, MDC deputy spokesperson, concurred with Mwonzora saying his party was more than ready to participate in the by-elections.

“Our understanding is that the judgment was for the three by-elections,” Chihwayi said. “We don’t have a problem if they hold the elections in all the 38 constituencies if they have the resources. 

“We as a party are ready to contest. Our congress resolution made at our last congress meeting was that we agreed that we would go to every part of this country and contest anywhere where there is an election.

“We are ready and we are very confident that in those 38 we won’t enter as underdogs. 

“We have made inroads, we have adequate ammunition to wrestle for those seats. We are hoping to prove that we have covered a lot of ground and we are a national party.” 

Zanu PF hardliners have been calling for by-elections in the 38 constituencies that have fallen vacant since 2009 saying it would be one of the ways of collapsing the inclusive government, which they say has become dysfunctional. 

The party believes it has regained support after a dismal performance in 2008 where it lost control of Parliament to the two MDC formations in 2008. 

Analysts believe Zanu PF has not managed to reverse its decline and faces a real test in the next polls. – NewsDay