Little-known parties benefit Mugabe

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HARARE – The MDC boycott of by elections has given President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF reason to frustrate calls for reforms because little known opposition parties who have been participating in these mini polls have given them legitimacy, analysts say.

This is despite concerted effort by the MDC and other opposition parties that have been coalescing under the banner of the Zimbabwe National Electoral Reform Agenda (Zinera) to press  for reforms ahead of next year’s elections.

The MDC has so far refused to participate in all the by-elections that have been held so far which saw Zanu PF winning all but one.

Political analyst Shakespeare Hamauswa said there was nothing wrong with the parties choosing to partake in electoral process “in the name of democracy”.

“The smaller parties are expressing their democratic rights. Their failure to garner a significant number of votes reflects the political polarisation in Zimbabwe,” Hamauswa told the Daily News On Sunday.

Another political analyst, Maxwell Saungweme claimed that most of the smaller parties were participating in the elections for the love of money.

“Some of these small political parties are personal projects aimed at income generation for the owner or president of the party.

“They are not meant to be a government in waiting. Their aims are not to take over as a ruling party, but to continue getting donor funds and create employment for the party owner.

“The multiple miniature political parties are part of the three million jobs created by Zanu PF which (its MP) Psychology Maziwisa was referring to. How do you want them to survive as business entities if they don’t participate in elections, as their pay cheque come with elections?” Saungweme said.

The MDC has been criticised for not taking part in the by elections as most political watchers argued that the decision was sending a wrong message to the electorate.

Crucially, they argued, the participation by these nondescript parties was giving Mugabe and Zanu PF the legitimacy which the MDC had sought to take away by boycotting the by elections.

The MDC insists that the current electoral field needs levelling by introducing sweeping reforms ahead of next year’s elections.

“The Zanu PF regime is a tried and tested dictatorship. It’s a fully-fledged fascist and totalitarian regime.

“Now and again, the regime actually forms and sponsors briefcase opposition political parties to contest in elections and by-elections in order to portray an outward image of multi – party democracy,” MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu told the Daily News in Sunday as he defended their position of maintain a boycott.

“Most of these shadowy and dubious opposition political parties that regularly participate in by-elections do not even have a physical address.

“They are virtual one-man bands, directed and manipulated by the CIO (Central Intelligence Organisation) counter intelligence desk at Chaminuka building in Harare.

“Mugabe craves for political legitimacy. Although he is undoubtedly a tyrant, he wants to style himself out as a democrat in the region and beyond.

“We shouldn’t be surprised at all when more than 10 people suddenly emerge and announce their candidature for the office of President in next year’s elections,” said Gutu, mockingly.

Apart from allegations that these smaller parties are being used to sanitise the landslide wins by Zanu PF, the parties are also accused of being used as political pawns in splitting the votes to ultimately benefit the ruling party.

Most of these smaller opposition political parties are however on record refuting the allegations that they are Zanu PF projects, claiming instead that they are only exercising their democratic right in terms of the country’s Constitution.