IN a constitutional democracy like ours, political parties are formed and exist to put themselves up for acceptance or rejection by the electorate as alternatives to the ruling party of the day.

We wonder to what end the MDC-T leadership believe their party was formed if not to contest elections by offering themselves as alternatives to Zanu-PF.

The only, legitimate, grief free route to political power is via the ballot box because it is only through universal adult suffrage that one can get a nationwide mandate to preside over the affairs of this nation.

Any other route, including MDC-T’s long-held abortive dream of illegal regime change will remain just that, a bad dream from which the opposition party must remember to wake up. That the MDC-T is a bunch of confusion is given, but why the party’s supporters continuing reposing faith in such confusionists is the stuff of legend.

Here is a classic example.

On Friday, March 27, two by-elections were held in Chirumanzu-Zibagwe and Mt Darwin West constituencies, which the opposition MDCs boycotted but which other fringe parties contested and lost to Zanu-PF.

That same day, President Mugabe proclaimed, in a Government Gazette, by-elections in 14 of the constituencies that were held by the 21 expelled MDC-T MPs.

The President set April 16 as the date for the sitting of the Nomination Court and June 10 as the date for the by-elections should they become necessary after the sitting of the nomination courts.

And what did the MDC-T do?

The party immediately realised the enormity and folly of its ill conceived boycott and announced that its national council would soon meet to deliberate on whether to contest or boycott the 14 by-elections most of which fall in the party’s perceived strongholds.

As we report elsewhere in this issue, the MDC-T national council is set to meet to reconsider the boycott decision amid reports of serious divisions in the party over the boycott resolution. Déjà vu October 12, 2005 when the original MDC-T split over Morgan Tsvangirai’s decision that the party boycott that year’s Senate elections.

Then, as now, Zanu-PF proceeded to contest and win those elections, and the sun still rose the next day. The MDC-T’s professed reason to boycott the elections is as hypocritical as it is infantile. The party claims it won’t participate in any elections until there are “reforms’’.

But the record will show that the MDC-T leaders spent four years in an inclusive Government with Zanu-PF, an inclusive Government that was put in place to foster an environment of political and socio-economic stability in readiness for the holding of fresh elections in the wake of the contested outcome of the 2008 elections. In that inclusive Government, the MDCs — in their various guises — along with Zanu-PF, participated in the biggest reform since independence, the authorship and adoption of the new Constitution which offers the framework for all the by-elections.

Zanu-PF, MDC-T and the MDC also negotiated the Electoral Act which governs the conduct of the elections. Any serious political party would know that any reforms that it needs can only come through Parliament in which representation and numbers are essential. This is why it comes as a surprise that the MDC-T would talk reform on one hand while boycotting the institution integral to that reform agenda.

We would have thought that the MDC-T leaders had learnt from their inclusive Government days that the only way to influence reforms is through participation.

The MDC-T leaders must be honest and tell their supporters the real reason they boycotted the elections namely fear of further defeat at the hands of a resurgent Zanu-PF and lack of resources in the wake of donor flight stemming from Morgan Tsvangirai’s failed leadership.

Anything else the party fulminates about is just that, hot air.