Zimbabwe opposition weighs election options

Leader of Zimbabwes biggest opposition party, Nelson Chamisa is seen during an interview with the Associated Press in Harare, Thursday, March, 8, 2018. Chamisa is a charismatic lawyer and trained pastor who seeks to capitaliize on goodwill towards his deceased predecessor and highlight the past of his militarty backed opponent, President Emmerson Mnangagwa.(AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

HARARE – Opposition leader Nelson Chamisa and other principals in the MDC Alliance have not ruled out boycotting next month’s crucial national elections but for now, they will continue dialogue with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) over their demands for reforms.

This is despite Zec slamming the door firmly shut on the opposition by declaring that nothing short of an earthquake would stop the impending watershed polls whether their demands had been met or not.

Yesterday Chamisa’s new spokesperson, Nkululeko Sibanda, said the youthful presidential candidate was still consulting — but was firm on the Alliance’s demands for conditions which make July 30 elections free and fair.

“The president is meeting with different people and will take action from their views. He is not taking action at the moment.

“The president has made it very clear that nothing short of a free and fair election will be accepted by the people and Zec must act in accordance with the law,” Sibanda told the Daily News.

He warned that if Zec fails to take heed of their demands they will appeal to the people to intervene.

“They will peacefully decide on what to do on whether to continue another five years with the current government or not,” he said.

MDC secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora said they were not taking away the option of boycotting the elections but would give dialogue a chance.

“We are in the process of engaging Zec and we are meeting Zec next week after which we will make our decision. We will obviously cross the bridge when we get there, but we will continue to engage with Zec,” Mwonzora said.

On Monday, in statements which were viewed as closing the door on the opposition and its demands for a raft of electoral reforms, Zec chairperson Priscillah Chigumba told journalists that nothing will now stand in the way of conducting elections.

“Whether the candidates scrutinise the voters’ roll, whether they see any anomalies in it, whatever the anomalies are, whatever legal recourse they have will not stop an election. I want that to be very clear, nothing stops the election.

“Let me put the law into perspective, first thing to take note is once the president has proclaimed the election date, there is nothing short of an earthquake that can stop the election,” Chigumba said.

With Zimbabwe fast approaching the July 30 elections, Zec has come under the spotlight, mainly from the opposition, who claim that the national elections management body needs to be reformed ahead of the crucial polls.

On June 5, thousands of opposition supporters — mainly drawn from the MDC Alliance — marched in Harare to press for a raft of reforms which include the change of personnel at Zec and transparency in the printing and distribution of ballot papers.

According to the law, changes at Zec can only be made possible by Parliament through either amendments or an overhaul of current statutes governing its operations — meaning that both the ruling Zanu PF and the MDC may have missed that chance during the life of the current Parliament.

Next month’s elections have generated such interest among both ordinary Zimbabweans and ambitious politicians alike, that a staggering 22 opposition leaders are set to contest President Emmerson Mnangagwa in the presidential plebiscite.

This year’s record 23 presidential candidates  include MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa and former vice president Joice Mujuru.

The polls themselves will be the first in the past two decades not to feature former Zanu PF strongman Robert Mugabe and the late opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai — who lost his valiant battle against cancer of the colon in February this year.

Mugabe resigned from office late last year a few hours after Parliament had initiated proceedings to impeach him — when he had refused to leave office during eight tense days that began with the military intervening in the governance of the country. – Daily News