ZANU PF has been criticised for insensitivity after it rushed to nominate a candidate to contest the Lupane seat just two weeks after the death of the MDC MP for the area, David Mpala.
This move comes after the government released postmortem results showing that Mpala had died of cryptococcal meningitis, a fungal infection of the brain.
The MDC had said Mpala succumbed to wounds sustained when he was abducted and allegedly tortured by Zanu PF supporters last year.
The move to nominate a candidate so soon comes as a surprise to many as Zanu PF usually takes its time to name candidates for election.
Zanu PF’s Lupane district co-ordinating committee last week nominated Martin Khumalo as its candidate to contest the by-election whose dates have not yet been announced.
Khumalo’s candidacy was approved by Zanu PF’s provincial chairman for Matabeleland North, Jacob Mudenda, who was present during the nominations at Lupane business centre.
Zanu PF is seeking to wrest its first seat in Matabeleland North after a disastrous campaign in the 2000 parliamentary election that saw the party failing to win a single seat in the province.
MDC spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi told the Zimbabwe Independent that Zanu PF’s behaviour was in bad taste.
“Here we are still mourning Mpala but Zanu PF is already plotting how it can take his seat,” said Nyathi. “Their behaviour translates into how they govern this country without sensitivity, and we are saying this is in bad taste,” said Nyathi.
However, the Zanu PF deputy national commissar Sikhanyiso Ndlovu said he would not comment until the party’s district committee formally submits the name.
“Really there is nothing to comment on and branches are allowed to come up with any name they feel like mentioning and in a democracy that is allowed but we shall wait for the name to be formally submitted before we can make a comment,” Ndlovu said.
The MDC director of elections Remus Makuwaza said the Matabeleland province would forward the name of the candidate to stand in Lupane after all the procedures had been followed.
“The provincial leadership will deal with the matter of nominating a candidate once everything is in place because we are still mourning Mpala. Once that is done everything will be forwarded to the national directorate,” Makuwaza said.
The MDC has so far lost three seats to Zanu PF in by-elections held since 2000.