Zimbabwe’s Opposition Party Slams Election Commission for Disqualifying Candidates

By-elections marred by controversy as ZEC declares Zanu PF winners without a vote

by Victor Adetimilehin

Zimbabwe’s main opposition party, the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), has accused the country’s election commission of being biased and unprofessional after it disqualified five of its candidates from contesting in the upcoming by-elections.

The Zimbabwe Election Commission (ZEC) announced on Sunday that the nomination of the CCC candidates, who were set to run for local council seats in various wards, had been nullified by a High Court order issued on January 19, 2024.

As a result, ZEC declared that the ruling party, Zanu PF, had won the seats uncontested, without a vote.

The CCC, led by Nelson Chamisa, dismissed ZEC’s statement as “false, inaccurate, misleading and premature”, saying it was still within the legal timeframe to appeal the court ruling.

CCC spokesperson Promise Mkwananzi said in a statement: “We are going to appeal within the stipulated timeframe and we advise our candidates, voters, supporters, and members of the public to forge on with their campaigns and preparations as planned and scheduled.”

He added that ZEC should “endeavor to acquit itself with the highest level of professionalism, independence and objectivity” and not “recklessly jump the gun in matters of such national significance”.


Internal Rifts and Recalls

Internal rifts and power struggles have rocked the CCC since the disputed 2023 general elections. Zanu PF secured a two-thirds majority in parliament and President Emmerson Mnangagwa won a second term in those elections.

A faction within the CCC, led by self-appointed secretary-general Sengezo Tshabangu, has initiated a series of recalls of CCC MPs and councilors, claiming that they had ceased to be party members.

Tshabangu has also challenged the nomination of some CCC candidates in court, resulting in several forfeitures by the opposition party.

Chamisa has denounced Tshabangu as an impostor and a Zanu PF agent, insisting that the CCC does not have structures nor the position of secretary-general.

The CCC has also accused ZEC of favoring Zanu PF and failing to implement electoral reforms that would ensure free and fair elections in Zimbabwe.

ZEC has denied any bias or wrongdoing, saying it is following the law and the constitution.

People see the by-elections, scheduled for February 3, 2024, as a test of Zimbabwe’s democracy and stability. They also offer the opposition a chance to regain some ground after recalls and court challenges cost them many seats.

The new COVID-19 regulations will apply to the by-elections, the first ones to follow these rules. They require voters to wear masks, sanitize their hands, and keep social distance at polling stations.

Zimbabwe has recorded more than 100,000 cases and 3,000 deaths from the coronavirus pandemic, according to the latest figures from the Ministry of Health.

The CCC has urged its supporters to turn out in large numbers and vote for change, despite the challenges and obstacles.

“We remain confident that the people of Zimbabwe will overcome this dark and difficult moment and usher in a new dawn of democracy, peace and prosperity for all,” Mkwananzi said.


Source: New Zimbabwe

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