The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has refused to be involved in the fight over the MDC Alliance name between the MDC-T led by Douglas Mwonzora and the MDC Alliance led by Nelson Chamisa.
This comes after Mwonzora last week wrote a letter to ZEC chairperson Priscilla Chigumba asking her to block Chamisa and his party from using the name and symbols.
Chamisa has insisted on using the MDC Alliance name in upcoming elections since it was the one his party used when he narrowly lost the presidential race to President Emmerson Mnangagwa in 2018.
On Wednesday ZEC spokesperson Joyce Kazembe told NewsDay in an interview that ZEC would not interfere with disputes between political parties over names. She said:
We cannot block any party that would want to register with any name as long as the name brought is different from any other name that has already been registered with another political party.
If there are other individuals who want to block others from using certain names which are different from theirs, we won’t entertain them.
As long as the MDC acronym is used without making the name similar to the other names that have already been accepted as political party names, we can’t reject the registration.
Meanwhile, on Monday this week, a little known political party led by Thulani Gula Ndebele notified ZEC that it would also contest the by-elections as MDC Zimbabwe.
MDC Zimbabwe was registered as a political party in November 2019, according to documents that have been circulating online.
United Kingdom-based legal commentator, Alex Magaisa, warned Chamisa and his party that they could be barred from using the MDC Alliance name if Mwonzora decides to take the legal route. He said:
In the past, we have seen the nomination court accepting several names with the same acronym.
The electoral law requires a party to have a distinct symbol that does not resemble that of any other party.
What will, however, happen is, if ZEC cannot block the MDC Alliance from contesting using the MDC Alliance name, the electoral court may.
Mwonzora may challenge the use of the name at the nomination court and proceed to the electoral court, where the judgment cannot be contested.
There is no appeal and ZEC will abide by the court ruling and stop them from using the name.