The March 26 by-elections are being held to fill 28 vacant parliamentary seats and 105 local authority seats that were left vacant after the MDC-T recalled MDC Alliance MPs and councillors.
Ironically, MDC-T leader Douglas Mwonzora has claimed the MDC Alliance name, but failed to field candidates in some wards and constituencies, mostly in Bulawayo.
Zanu-PF has already secured the ward 14 seat in Umguza, Matabeleland North province unopposed after all opposition parties in the country failed to field candidates.
The newly-formed Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) led by Nelson Chamisa is, however, represented in all other constituencies.
Mwonzora yesterday unwittingly admitted that he was not prepared for the March by-elections following his party’s failure to field candidates in several areas throughout the country.
In a statement, Mwonzora stated that his party “hurriedly” selected candidates as it had limited time to prepare for the by-elections.
He then blamed his unnamed political rivals for his failure to field candidates for all the vacant seats and admitted that candidate selection was hurriedly done.
Mwonzora then accused his political rivals of allegedly paying his prospective candidates in an attempt to sway their allegiance.
“A few days ago after successfully completing our candidate selection process we fielded our parliamentary and local government candidates for the forthcoming by-elections. Due to constraints of time, our candidate selection was hurried and may not have been perfect in some areas. Our detractors left no stone unturned in their quest to interfere with our candidate selection process.
“Even after the candidate selection process, they did not tire. They tried all they could to make sure our chosen candidates were discouraged from filing papers and appearing before the nomination court. This, they did, using a variety of methods, including offering financial and other incentives to our candidates to drop. We were heartened to see that through their sheer determination to do what is right, the majority of our candidates resisted these evil attempts,” Mwonzora said.
His former vice-president Thokozani Khupe distanced herself from accusations that she interfered with his candidates selection, saying that it was Mwonzora’s strategy to cover up for his weaknesses.
“The failure by the Mwonzora-led MDC Alliance to get candidates and the subsequent en masse withdrawal of candidates is a clear indication that their outfit is unattractive, unelectable and their politics of appeasing the current Zanu-PF regime stinks to high heavens. Playing the blame game will not assist him as most if not all Zimbabweans are clear that Mwonzora’s outfit will not get their votes in the upcoming by-elections. Their new strategy of blaming individuals and other parties is meant to endear that outfit to their handlers Zanu-PF,” Khupe said.
Smaller opposition parties led by members of the Political Actors Dialogue also failed to field candidates for the by-elections.
National Constitutional Assembly leader Lovemore Madhuku recently told journalists that his party will not contest in the by-elections as it was concentrating on the 2023 polls.
Political analyst Methuseli Moyo said: “If a political party fails to field candidates in a mini by-election like this, it paints a grim picture about the party’s capacity to organise for a harmonised election with presidential, parliamentary and council elections in one, as we will have in 2023.”
Another analyst Effie Ncube said it was important for opposition parties to ensure that they were represented in all areas to prove their political prowess.
“It is always important that these opposition parties ensure their presence everywhere because it plays a very significant role in deepening the trust that people have in the parties, particularly the CCC party. Leaving Zanu-PF to take these spaces uncontested has a very serious impact in terms of how people perceive the party as a change agent. It should contest Zanu-PF in every corner where there is an election,” he said.