New Zimbabwe.com

MDC in poll boycott u-turn, to contest Mutoko by-election

By Robert Tapfumaneyi

THE MDC has finally abandoned its poll boycott stance and will contest the Mutoko North by-election in November after sitting legislator Mabel Chinomona of Zanu PF was recently elevated to becoming Senate President.

Party spokesperson Jacob Mafume confirmed the development to NewZimbabwe.com, adding that the main opposition will not give up on its demands for a level electoral playing field.

“Yes we are going to meet soon as a party and we will choose our candidate to contest in the Mutoko North constituency by-election,” Mafume said.

The Zanu PF women’s league boss won the seat in the July 30 election, polling a massive 16 902 votes against her challengers, Boniface Mushore of MDC Alliance’s 3 151 votes with Kativhu Shamu of FreeZim Congress managing a tiny 262 votes.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has proclaimed November 24 as the day the by-election will be held with the Nomination Court sitting October 12.

The main MDC and its breakaway groups have been boycotting the country’s by-elections in attempts to press for electoral reforms.

During the period, Zanu PF won all the seats which were up for grabs virtually unchallenged, while ignoring opposition demands for poll reforms.

Then led by Morgan Tsvangirai (now late), MDC in 2015 failed to contest in some by-elections in Bulawayo, allowing Zanu PF to snatch seats from its stronghold province.

However, this is now a thing of the past as a reunited MDC has resolved to take part.

“But as we agree to participate, we look forward that the electoral body, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) will be transparent and improve on how they handle elections,” Mafume said.

“Surely we need to see a big difference between general elections and by-elections and this will be a test for ZEC to see if they are going to improve on what several local and international observers Election Reports noted in the just ended election.

“We also expect the situation to be conducive for opposition to campaign and participate in areas known to be no go areas for the opposition by ruling party supporters, and state sponsored violence.”

Meanwhile, MDC-T Deputy President Obert Gutu said the party led by Thokozani Khupe was set to meet as the National Standing Committee and come up with a position on whether to also take part in the by-election.

The MDC breakaway group did not field the candidate in the constituency in July.

“We are a democratic party and we believe in consultation. So, in the next meeting, the Mutoko North by-election will be on the agenda,” Gutu told NewZimbabwe.com.

“The issue will be discussed in consultation with our Mashonaland East provincial and district structures and see their state of preparedness to contest in the by-election.

“But we have every intentions to participate in all the by-elections.”