Zimbabwe opposition MDC’s vice president, Thokozani Khupe talks to reporters at the Red Sea resort where African leaders are meeting ahead of Monday’s general AU summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt Sunday, June 29, 2008. Zimbabwe’s opposition appealed to the African Union on Saturday to send peacekeepers and a special envoy to stem violence and help mediate an end its country’s political crisis. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

HARARE – Bickering within Zimbabwe’s opposition alliance is weakening its chances of ousting the ruling party in this month’s elections, the southern African nation’s first since Robert Mugabe ended his 37-year rule in November.

By Godfrey Marawanyika and Brian Latham

The High Court is hearing a case brought by Thokozani Khupe, former vice president of the main opposition group, the Movement for Democratic Change, that she and not its president Nelson Chamisa should campaign under its name. In four parliamentary races, members of the seven-group MDC Alliance are fielding multiple candidates and in several others none at all. The governing Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front has put forward a single nominee for all of the 210 constituencies.

“The MDC Alliance is on shaky ground because they haven’t fielded candidates in some constituencies, they’re facing internal wrangles like the Khupe issue, and fielding multiple candidates in individual constituencies,” Zimbabwe Democracy Institute analyst Rashwheat Mukundu said Monday by phone from Harare, the capital.

The election will pit Chamisa, 40, against President Emmerson Mnangagwa, a 75-year-old former justice minister and spy chief who served as vice president until Mugabe fired him last year. Mugabe was later forced to resign after the military intervened and protests against him erupted across the country.

Adding to the confusion over the MDC’s brand, two parties already use the name: Chimasa’s larger faction, which he has been leading since the movement’s founder, Morgan Tsvangirai, died in February, and a rival group headed by Welshman Ncube.

The July 30 election will take place as the nation’s economy, which has halved in size since 2000, faces a cash crisis that limits withdrawals from banks and the government’s ability to pay state workers on time.

Source: Bloomberg