President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s sudden announcement of by-election dates in 14 constituencies has exacerbated tensions within Zimbabwe’s largest opposition party, the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC). The by-elections will be held on December 9th to fill seats left vacant after controversial recalls of CCC legislators last month.
The recalls were conducted by self-imposed interim CCC secretary general Sengezo Tshabangu. However, party leader Nelson Chamisa and others have accused Tshabangu of colluding with the ruling ZANU-PF party. By quickly setting election dates, some believe Mnangagwa and ZANU-PF aim to weaken the CCC by deepening divisions before the party can solidify.
In response, the CCC is considering a range of options. Party spokesperson Promise Mkwananzi hinted they may boycott the by-elections altogether. He said withdrawing from parliament could trigger a constitutional crisis and potentially force new national elections. Meanwhile, analysts warn that participating in the by-elections also carries risks if the party is not united.
Behind the scenes, attempts at mediation are underway. Sources say Chamisa and Tshabangu’s representatives have begun discussions to find common ground. Tshabangu confirmed his lawyers have met with Chamisa allies to explore negotiations. However, trust remains low after the recalls and lively public disputes. If talks fail, Tshabangu also threatened to forward his own candidates unilaterally. But without Chamisa’s endorsement, those candidates will be defeated by Zanu PF candidates.
The tensions pose difficult choices for Zimbabwe’s opposition at a critical time. The by-elections could strengthen ZANU-PF’s grip on parliament. And longer term instability within CCC may only benefit the ruling party as it seeks even firmer control. How Chamisa navigates this crisis could determine both his party’s coherence and their ability to continue challenging ZANU-PF’s authoritarian rule.