REVEALED: Why MDC Alliance leader Douglas Mwonzora wants to block by-elections

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UNDER-FIRE MDC Alliance leader Douglas Mwonzora has through his legal adviser Tapera Sengweni, filed an urgent chamber application at the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) seeking nullification of the by-elections slated for March 26.

Sengweni argued that President Emmerson Mnangagwa failed to proclaim dates for the by-elections within the timeframe set by the Constitution, therefore, the proclamations he made on December 24, 2021 and January 27, 2022 should be declared null and void.

He further asserts that Zimbabwe cannot afford costs associated with holding by-elections this month, but should wait for general elections due next year.

Most of the 28 parliamentary and 121 council seats fell vacant after the MDC-T then led by Mwonzora recalled MDC Alliance representatives for supporting a faction led by Nelson Chamisa.

In the court application, Sengweni, who is a deregistered lawyer, cited Mnangagwa and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) as respondents.

He jointly made the application with Vinnah Mbele, Edify Vushoma and Fanuel Tsvanhu.

“This is an application for a determination that the first respondent (Mnangagwa) failed to call for by-elections for all the 28 National Assembly and council seats within the time stipulated by the Constitution, and, therefore, an order declaring that the two purported proclamations above are unconstitutional, therefore, null and void.

“The first respondent failed or refused, neglected or absconded from proclaiming dates for the by-elections. The time specified by the Constitution came and went.

“The first respondent did not proclaim the by-elections as mandated.

“As a citizen of this country, I believe in the full and correct interpretation and application of the Constitution — in other words I have an unalienable right to the correct and timeous interpretation and effect of the Constitution,” the applicants submitted.

“In any event, there is really no need for by-elections now. This country is due to hold its harmonised elections in the next 16 months.

“It is prudent to wait for that date. As a small economy, Zimbabwe has financial challenges that are affecting the greater majority of its population.

“The government is struggling to pay its employees a living wage. It is not prudent to drag the country into another plebiscite whose outcome does not change the numerical configuration of Parliament in any way,” the applicants submitted.

Analysts yesterday said Mwonzora had realised that he would not win the by-elections, hence his last-minute bid to defer the process.

Mwonzora yesterday, however, distanced himself from the court application.

Mwonzora begged President Mnangagwa to consider scrapping pending by-elections when the two met under controversial circumstances at State House on June 11.

Mnangagwa met Mwonzora while in the company of Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga.

The MDC-Alliance leader revealed after the meeting, described by his lieutenants as secretive, that he had tabled a set of “damands” to the Zanu PF leaders, but flatly refused to disclose them, saying he was waiting for the president’s written response.

This publication, however, obtained a copy of the four-page document Mwonzora gave Mnangangwa. The suspension of by-elections, which if done, would give Mwonzora an edge over Nelson Chamisa’s CCC in the fight for recognition as the main opposition party in Zimbabwe.

The MDC-Alliance leader justified the proposal to suspend by-elections, saying it would give Zimbabweans time to “find each other”.

“While Zimbabweans are talking and finding each other in this serious manner it seems unnecessary to introduce something divisive as by-elections,” he said in the statement.

“It is, therefore, suggested that while discussions are going on regarding aforementioned issues, by-elections be suspended.

“In order to avoid prejudice to the electorate, it is suggested that an arrangement be made for parties to make replacements of vacancies in their areas of control as guided by law.”

Following a controversial Supreme Court ruling last year, Mwonzora has recalled dozens of MDC Alliance legislators and councillors amid accusations that he is aiding Mnangagwa’s ambitions to create a one-party state.

Mwonzora denies allegations that he is a Zanu PF puppet, but he has indicated his eagerness to work with the ruling party while pushing out Chamisa’s group.

In his submissions to Mnangagwa, he also proposed a new dialogue platform between MDC-Alliance and Zanu PF to be known as the Parliamentary Dialogue Forum (PDF).

He said PDF would be made up of five Zanu PF legislators, five MDC-Alliance legislators and two chiefs. The platform would have Zanu PF and MDC-Alliance principals while excluding Chamisa’s camp.

According to the document, the PDF would have its own secretariat where Zanu PF and the MDC-Alliance will second officials that would be on a full salary.

“The two political parties to select two salaried and specific coordinators each, who sit in the PDF,” reads the document.

Mwonzora assured Mnangagwa that there would be no further talk of the 2018 general elections as that was water under the bridge as concluded by the Constitutional Court.

“The Constitutional Court of Zimbabwe made a definitive judgement, which in the party’s view settled the legitimacy question. To the MDC-Alliance party the legitimacy is a settled issue,” he wrote.

— NewsDay/The Standaard


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