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Tsvangirai backtracks

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MDC-T yesterday hinted that it might reconsider its resolution not to participate in by-elections until there are electoral reforms following the expulsion of 21 MDC-Renewal legislators.

STAFF REPORTERS

The pending U-turn could be a knee-jerk response following a realisation that the party may have all but gifted Zanu PF the seats, after it sought the expulsion of the legislators.

MDC-T spokesman Obert Gutu yesterday said the party’s national executive and national council would meet to discuss by-elections and make a decision on whether to participate or not.

“The top leadership will meet soon after such a significant development, to reflect,” he said.

“The national council is the highest decision-making organ of the party in between congresses.

“It is up to members at the national council meeting to rescind the decision or not, if need be the matter will be put to vote.”  MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu
“It is up to members at the national council meeting to rescind the decision or not, if need be the matter will be put to vote,” MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu

“It is only the national council that can alter, amend and or set aside resolutions of the congress.

“It is up to members at the national council meeting to rescind the decision or not, if need be the matter will be put to vote.”

The MDC-T now finds itself in an unenviable position, where it might have to alter its resolution and be accused of inconsistency or let Zanu PF take the seats, observers noted.

The MDC-T is demanding a raft of electoral reforms, among them production of a new voters’ roll, recruitment of new impartial staff at the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and the opening of the public media to opposition political parties.

MDC-T secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora said the party’s congress last year had resolved not to contest in by-elections and this could only be reversed by the national council.

“The decision to take part in by-elections, following the developments, rests on the national council,” he said yesterday.

“The national council will sit following the new developments and the action to take in this case will be known after the national council has decided.

“Beside that, the congress and national council decision not to take part in any election before reforms still stands.”

Media scholar Pedzisai Ruhanya said having looked at all possible factors and party interests, his conclusion was that MDC-T would participate in the by-elections, unless MDC-Renewal got a judicial reprieve by way of a successful court appeal against Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda’s ruling expelling the MPs.

“Anyone who doubts this by citing an earlier decision not to participate in elections without reforms probably underestimates what is at stake here,” he said.

“After all, the only consistent animal is a donkey, as (Information minister) Jonathan Moyo once noted.”

Meanwhile, MDC-Renewal is challenging the expulsion of the legislators from Parliament at the Constitutional and High Court, Jacob Mafume, the party’s spokesperson said yesterday.

Mafume said Mudenda was wrong in expelling the legislators, as a legal challenge over the leadership of the party was still pending at the High Court.

“We are contesting the expulsion of the legislators at the Constitutional Court and the High Court,” he said.

“Mudenda’s ruling is unconstitutional and flawed.

“He once ruled on the case and nothing has changed to warrant the Tuesday ruling for the dismissal of the MP’s from Parliament.”

Mudenda last year dismissed a plea by the MDC-T to expel the legislators from Parliament after they went separate ways with Morgan Tsvangirai and formed the MDC-Renewal.

“The national council will sit following the new developments and the action to take in this case will be known after the national council has decided,''  MDC-T secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora
“The national council will sit following the new developments and the action to take in this case will be known after the national council has decided,” MDC-T secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora

The Speaker of Parliament at the time said the two parties should refer their wrangle over the ownership of the party to the courts.

“There is a dispute of fact on who is in charge of the MDC and no court has ruled on that,” he said.

“The Speaker once ruled on the matter before and he has changed his decision yet nothing has changed.

“We will seek an interdict barring the Speaker from stopping the legislators from attending Parliament.”

Mudenda in his ruling however argued otherwise, saying circumstances had changed, as the case on the legitimacy of the real MDC-T was no longer pending at the High Court.

Zanu PF is already relishing the chance of going to by-elections, with Moyo, for example, noting he wanted to bring the constituency back to the party.

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