Zimbabwe’s Ruling Party Bars Opposition MP from By-Election

Zimbabwe's ruling party Zanu PF tries to stop a former opposition MP from contesting in the by-elections

by Victor Adetimilehin

Zimbabwe’s ruling party Zanu PF has filed an application at the High Court to stop a former opposition MP from contesting in the upcoming by-elections. Amos Chibaya, who was recalled by a self-proclaimed leader of the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), is among 23 candidates who want to run under the CCC banner.


Power Struggle in the Opposition

The CCC is the main opposition party in Zimbabwe, led by Nelson Chamisa, who narrowly lost the 2018 presidential election to Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zanu PF. However, a faction within the party, led by Sengezo Tshabangu, claims to be the legitimate leadership and has the backing of the courts. Tshabangu has recalled dozens of CCC lawmakers and councilors, accusing them of being loyal to Chamisa.

The legal battle has dragged on since last year, with the first group of recalled opposition legislators failing to be reinstated. The by-elections are slated for February 3, but Tshabangu has filed an urgent application at the High Court to bar the 23 candidates from using the party’s name and symbols. He insists that they are no longer members of the CCC.


Zanu PF Joins the Fray

In a surprising move, Zanu PF has also joined the proceedings, seeking to prevent Chibaya from running in the Mkoba constituency, where he was the MP before his recall. Zanu PF’s chairperson for Kaguvi District, Ward 14 in Mkomba Matebeleland North province, filed the application, arguing that Chibaya is not eligible to contest as he is not a member of any political party.

The matter will be heard by High Court judge Justice Pisirayi Kwenda on Thursday. The CCC led by Chamisa has also sought to be joined to the proceedings, as it claims to have the right to field candidates in the by-elections. The High Court is also expected to hand down its judgment in a separate matter where the recalled MPs and councilors have challenged the legality of their recalls.


Implications for Democracy

The dispute within the opposition has raised concerns about the state of democracy in Zimbabwe, where Zanu PF has been in power since independence in 1980. Critics say that the ruling party is exploiting the divisions in the CCC to weaken its rival and consolidate its grip on power.

However, some analysts say that the opposition should resolve its internal problems and focus on offering a credible alternative to the voters. They argue that the CCC has a chance to regain its popularity and challenge Zanu PF in the next elections, if it can unite and address the issues affecting the people, such as the economic crisis, human rights violations, and corruption.

Despite the challenges facing the opposition, some observers say that there is still hope for the future of Zimbabwe, as the country has a vibrant civil society, a resilient population, and a rich cultural heritage. They demand a peaceful, prosperous, and democratic nation for the people of Zimbabwe, where the authorities respect and protect their rights and freedoms. They urge all stakeholders to work together to achieve this vision and uphold the principles of the constitution, which the people adopted in 2013 after a referendum.

Source: New Zimbabwe

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