For the first time in 15 years, the opposition will lose control of Bulawayo, one of the few provinces that had remained steadfast in rejection of Zanu PF since the formation of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in 1999.
BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
MDC-T on Friday reaffirmed its decision not to contest the 14 by-elections on June 10 across the country after the main opposition party recalled 21 legislators from the National Assembly last month.
Five of the constituencies are in Bulawayo and represent more than half of elected parliamentary seats in the province.
Two other MDC formations led by Welshman Ncube and Sekai Holland will not contest the by-elections, meaning that seats could go to Zanu PF on a silver platter.
The province has seven seats and Zanu PF would be the major party in the city after the polls if it wins.
Analysts said the stance by the MDC-T was a betrayal of the electorate and could backfire in future.
“For the first time in 15 years, Zanu PF will have seats in Bulawayo and psychologically, it will send a message to all and sundry, boycott or no boycott, that the ruling party can win seats in opposition strongholds.
“It’s a huge blunder by the MDC-T,” Dumisani Nkomo said.
Nkomo is chief executive officer of the faith-based Habakkuk Trust, an independent organisation.
He said the MDC-T had failed to see the bigger picture in its fight against the MPs aligned to the MDC- Renewal faction led by Holland.
“They have surrendered representation.
The people of Bulawayo want representation but the MDC-T with this move is literally saying, people do not deserve representation,” Nkomo said.
“They should have allowed those MPs to continue being in Parliament as they were part of the broader democratic space, but the party has given that space away.
“Parliament is a site of struggle, a front in which the struggle is fought.
“You cannot withdraw forces from the front and not have an alternative strategy,” he added.
“Amendments go through Parliament and the opposition voices are needed to block those that close the democratic space, but the MDC-T has given that away.”
Bulawayo Agenda director Mmeli Dube weighed in saying the MDC-T scored an own goal as Zanu PF would not let go of the seats once it wins them through an election.
“Zanu PF will create a perception to the international community that they can win seats in opposition heartlands,” Dube said.
“What will stop them from manipulating the 2018 polls to ensure that they keep the constituencies for good?
“This means that it will not be a surprise if Zanu PF wins all seven seats in 2018 in Bulawayo.
“The boycott fails to realise that the common enemy is Zanu PF, and as such it lacks strategic thinking as it is all influenced by bad blood, hatred.”
Mthwakazi Liberation Movement chairperson Mqondisi Moyo said the boycott was not strategic.
“The boycott is disturbing. The MDC-T has failed the people of Bulawayo after Zanu PF never won a seat since the party’s formation,” he said.
“The boycott does not benefit Bulawayo, or even the MDC-T, but Zanu PF only.”
MDC -T leader Morgan Tsvangirai defended the boycott on Friday saying participating in any election without electoral reforms would be fatal.
“Council was unanimous that, as MDC, we will uphold the congress resolution (to boycott elections),” he said.
“It will be fatal to take part in by-elections or any other form of election until reforms are done.”
Zanu PF has welcomed the by-elections. It has already won the
and Mt Darwin West polls held recently.