The by-elections slated for the 5th of December this year will have an added significance in light of the political dynamics over the past seven months, a political commentator has said.
University of Kent law lecturer, Alex Magaisa, believes that the by-elections scheduled for December represent a key battleground between the Thokozanu Khupe-led MDC-T and MDC-A led by Nelson Chamisa in the contestation for legitimacy as the official opposition in Zimbabwean politics.
Most of the seats to be contested fell vacant after the MDC-T used a dubious Supreme Court ruling to recall several MDC Alliance MPs who had refused to submit to the party’s leadership.
In his latest Big Saturday Read (BSR), Magaisa says Khupe’s MDC-T has enjoyed an advantage in the court of formal opinion and will now have to prove its mettle in the court of public opinion, which would be more decisive politically. He writes:
It has been an easy ride so far for the judicially-reconstructed MDC-T with all the favours it has enjoyed from the State and its institutions and agencies.
The election of the Harare Mayor last week gave a glimpse of the challenges it faces on the electoral platforms.
Having recalled former Mayor Hebert Gomba from council, the judicially-reconstructed MDC-T expected to win the race for his replacement.
It lost to the MDC Alliance when Councillor Jacob Mafume romped to victory. That was the first real battle between the two entities on an electoral platform. The MDC-T lost that battle.
It will be worse in constituencies and wards where the weight of public opinion is intensely against a group that voters believe has derailed the struggle against ZANU PF.
Recalling MPs and Councillors was sweet for the MDC-T, but it was a costly political error, for which it will be severely punished. Some political careers may never recover after this episode of madness.
Magaisa has warned the MDC-A against boycotting the by-elections citing a lack of political reforms. He says the points in favour of contesting by-elections outweigh those against it, and any event, the last boycott of by-elections in 2014/15 did not yield any serious dividends for the opposition.