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to polls: MDC
February 04, 2005
THE MDC yesterday
said it would now participate in the March 31 parliamentary elections,
backtracking from its earlier statement that it would not take part
in any election in the country.
at Harvest House, the party's head office in Harare, spokesman Mr
Paul Themba Nyathi said the MDC national council, its supreme decision-making
body, resolved to participate in the forthcoming elections.
The party announced
in August last year that it had suspended participation in all elections,
claiming that the Government had not fully complied with the Southern
African Development Community (Sadc) principles and guidelines governing
Mr Nyathi, who
was flanked by Harare East legislator Mr Tendai Biti, said the party
would go into the general elections under protest. He claimed that
the Government had not yet put in place a conducive environment
that allows for a free and fair election.
a decision based primarily on the demands of our people, the working
people of Zimbabwe, who wish to exercise their hard-fought and inalienable
right of voting," said Mr Nyathi.
is, therefore, a strategic decision to recognise our internal democracy
and sanctity of nationhood and the right to vote."
Mr Nyathi made
the unfounded claims of violence despite the fact that the party's
president, Mr Morgan Tsvangirai, recently acknowledged that calls
by the Government and police for a peaceful election have been heeded
by many people as there is peace in the country ahead of the polls.
In one of his
weekly messages last month, Mr Tsvangirai said incidents of political
violence were minimal in the run-up to the March elections.
latter-day exhortations to its supporters to display some form of
political civility in the run-up to the next election, the regime
is at least sending out positive signals to the people. I must recognise
and record what appears to be a change of rhythm within the police
force, especially the force's public stance towards direct, physical
violence," Mr Tsvangirai wrote.
pockets of rogue elements still exist here and there, by and large,
we have witnessed a decrease in cases of open violence against political
opponents. We are willing to work with the police and Zanu-PF to
open up Zimbabwe's political space."
the Minister of Home Affairs, Cde Kembo Mohadi, and Police Commissioner
Augustine Chihuri have said there would be zero tolerance to violence
and measures would be taken to ensure violence does not mar the
said they would deal with violence whether intra-party or inter-party.
Kindness Paradza (Makonde) and Phone Madiro (Hurungwe West) have
appeared in court charged with public violence following clashes
between their supporters and those of their rivals ahead of the
ruling party's primary elections, which have since been concluded.
Mr Nyathi said
the party felt let down by Sadc, which, he said, had not exerted
enough pressure on Zimbabwe to comply with the regional bloc's principles.
has been on a whirlwind tour of Sadc member states and some Western
countries to garner political sympathy ahead of the polls. He has
travelled to South Africa, Mauritius, Botswana and Zambia, among
The MDC leader
has also travelled to some European capitals since he got his passport
back after his acquittal on treason charges last October.
with regret the failure of Sadc to put the regime on the spot and
demanding the reproduction and implementation of fair electoral
standards in this country. Zimbabweans feel betrayed and let down
by the region," said Mr Nyathi.
Government has since established the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission,
an independent body to run all elections and referendums in line
with the Sadc principles and guidelines, which are just principles
and guidelines and not a protocol.
are supposed to be implemented in terms of a Sadc member's national
A number of
changes in line with the guidelines will also be introduced to the
electoral system through the newly codified Electoral Act.
and the MDC participated in debate on the Electoral Act and the
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Act when they were still Bills and
passed them after agreeing on a number of amendments.
Mr Nyathi said
the MDC national council expressed concern over the alleged violation
of the one-man one-vote principle, through "the continued disenfranchisement
of Zimbabweans because of their ancestry, place of residence and
the flawed voter registration and management regime".
has said Zimbabweans not resident in the country cannot vote because
according to the laws of the country, the elections are constituency-based.
Mr Nyathi said
the MDC had not been under pressure from anyone to take part in
not been pressured by President Mbeki or anyone to contest these
polls. The decision is solely from the MDC."
announcement by the MDC that it had called off its earlier stated
boycott of the election, National Constitutional Assembly (NCA)
chairman Dr Lovemore Madhuku reiterated that Zanu-PF would overwhelmingly
win the March 31 polls because the MDC was a write-off.
a seminar under the theme "Intra-Party Democracy in Zimbabwe"
last night, Dr Madhuku castigated MDC leaders, whom he said were
becoming more and more unreasonable as they mistakenly imagine that
they have a monopoly on democracy.
Dr Madhuku said
the MDC would win fewer seats than it won in 2000 when it took more
than 50 constituencies.
'To us in the
NCA, the decision (to participate) is fine, though it is disappointing.
But we appreciate the fact that whether the MDC participates in
the election or not, the outcome will be the same as Zanu-PF will
post a convincing majority.''
The NCA leader
said the MDC would be a write-off after the elections since the
only hope it had to attain power was to mobilise street protests.
leaders fail to do this, then it will be over for them.''
Dr Madhuku repeated
his call for civic groups to galvanise and present a united front
against Zanu-PF, though he was quick to acknowledge that the NCA
does not have the muscle to take on the initiative alone.
was a reaffirmation of the gist of the speech he made during a presentation
in Washington last week on Thursday titled "Zimbabwe at a Crossroads"
where he told his audience that the MDC was no longer a formidable
He told last
night's gathering that after the publication of his statement in
The Herald yesterday, he received numerous calls from opposition
elements who wanted clarification.
them that you cannot know me from The Herald, and I repeat it here
the MDC will not win the election in March."
Dr Madhuku said
the MDC's decision to contest, just like the earlier boycott announcement,
was just an indication of the lack of democracy in the party as
the rank and file of the opposition was not consulted.
This is not
the first time Dr Madhuku has castigated the MDC. After the ill-fated
"final push" in 2003, he took a swipe at MDC leader Mr
Tsvangirai on numerous occasions, accusing him of lacking the capacity
to unseat the Zanu-PF Government.
were echoed by former Harare South MP Ms Margaret Dongo, who told
last night's meeting that what Zimbabwe needs was not the kind of
change being advocated by the MDC.
reference to Mr Tsvangirai, Ms Dongo said: "A person who cannot
make a decision is very dangerous, muchenjere kufarira n'anga neinobata
Ms Dongo took
a swipe at Mr Raymond Majongwe, who had earlier on referred to the
Zanu-PF leadership as terrorists. She reminded him that it was because
of "the terrorists", both living and dead, that he was
able to attend a seminar "like this one".
who has been booed at previous seminars for his statements, publicly
distanced himself from the MDC.
which had representatives from the NCA, Zanu-PF and the Media Institute
of Southern Africa, was organised by the Crisis Coalition in Zimbabwe.
The MDC leadership
was not represented, but its district executive members for Harare
Dr William Nhara,
who represented Zanu-PF, reminded the opposition groups that "March
31st will be payback time for our democracy".
this week proclaimed March 31 as the day when the elections would
Court would sit on February 18 in various centres across the country
to accept candidates for the elections.
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