HomeOpinionBy-elections: Choosing substance over rhetoric

By-elections: Choosing substance over rhetoric

Brian Chitemba
THIS week nomination courts accepted prospective candidates for the March 26 by-elections which had been put on hold since 2020 ostensibly due to Covid-19 restrictions.

In Proclamation 1 of 2022, issued on December 24, 2021, President Emmerson Mnangagwa set January 26 as the date for nomination courts to sit while March 26, 2022, is the voting day.

There are over 133 vacant seats in parliament and councils after legislators  and councillors were recalled by Douglas Mwonzora who was first leader of MDC-T before he claimed the leadership of MDC Alliance.

In the 2018 presidential elections, MDC Alliance was led by Nelson Chamisa.

Mwonzora has been accused of being a surrogate of the ruling Zanu PF to destabilise the opposition led by Chamisa who has since launched the Citizens’ Coalition for Change (CCC).

According to a list of the by-elections candidates, this seems to be a battle between Zanu PF, MDC Alliance and CCC.

As the political intrigue unfolds, the High Court overturned an initial ruling which had saved six members of the PDP from the gruelling electoral processes.

While other vacant seats now have competing candidates on the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission list, nomination courts did not sit for Nkulumane, Mbizo, Kambuzuma, Mutasa South, Pumula and Harare East.

By the time the new High Court order was released, the nomination courts had closed.

A new date is expected for candidates in the six constituencies.

With over 133 parliament and local authorities vacancies for the March 26 polls, it means, Zimbabwe has dived into an election mode as the parties are preparing for the 2023 harmonised elections.

Zimbabwe is no longer a new democracy. Independence was attained almost 41 years ago.

The electorate has participated in previous plebiscites which confirmed Zanu PF electoral hegemony.

The late former president Robert Mugabe wanted a one-party state; in fact, Zimbabwe was de facto one party state.

Mugabe pushed for a de jure one-party government but failed. Mnangagwa harbours the same agenda.

But with the by-elections mostly in the opposition party’s stronghold; in urban areas, the most likely scenario is that Chamisa’s CCC is likely to dominate the polls.

The urban electorate has over the years voted more for the opposition than Zanu PF while the former liberation movement enjoys a bigger support base in the rural areas mainly due to populist policies such as free agricultural inputs and food aid.

The forthcoming by-elections present the political parties an opportunity to sell their ideas. Voters have come of age, some having participated in several elections since 1980, and leaders should be chosen on the basis of delivery rather than political rhetoric.

Where politicians have failed the electorate, such undeserving candidates should not find their way into parliament to enjoy benefits sponsored by taxpayers.

It’s time to vote for substance rather than rhetoric.

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