By- Information Secretary, Nick Mangwana, has said 26 March by-elections will determine the official opposition party in the country as any result will not change the majority party.
The ruling Zanu PF has the majority in Parliament while Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) and MDC Alliance are the two main opposition parties contesting in the by-elections. Mangwana said:
The real fight tomorrow is for the title of, “Zimbabwe’s Official Opposition”. Otherwise, the majority party will remain thus.
Mangwana’s remarks come barely hours before by-elections meant to fill 28 National Assembly seats and over 100 council seats.
Some of the seats became vacant through the deaths of former officeholders while the majority resulted from recalls of MDC Alliance members by rival MDC-T.
MDC Alliance was then led by Nelson Chamisa who now leads opposition Citizens Coalition for Change while the MDC-T was under Thokozani Khupe and Douglas Mwonzora when the recalls happened.
The recalls followed a 2020 Supreme Court ruling on the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leadership crisis that started during the last days of a former Prime Minister, the late Morgan Tsvangirai who was the party’s founding leader.
The higher court ruled that Nelson Chamisa was not the legitimate leader of the MDC, therefore, the party had to conduct an elective congress, but in the interim, the 2014 structures had to be reinstated.
Khupe then took over, Chamisa rejected the outcome of the court processes arguing that the ruling Zanu PF was influencing the discourse.
In a bid to whip MDC members to accept the outcome, Khupe recalled several MDC Alliance members who had confessed loyalty to Chamisa.
Although Nelson Chamisa, who contested the 2018 elections and lost narrowly to President Emmerson Mnangagwa, believes he deserved to receive money under the Political Parties (Finance) Act, the government recognised Khupe and allocated her the money.
The Political Parties Finances Act stipulates that only a political party that secures 5 per cent of the total votes cast can benefit from the national budget. In the 2018 elections, Zanu PF won 145 of the 210 seats in the National Assembly against MDC-Alliance’s 63.
Determining the official opposition is also important as the international community was having confusion as both Chamisa-led and the Mwonzora-led political outfits claimed to be the official opposition.