The MDC Alliance on Thursday scoffed at threats by the rival MDC-T party to field candidates in by-elections using the Alliance name.
The MDC-T led by Douglas Mwonzora said it planned to participate in by-elections as the MDC Alliance, claiming that a 2018 electoral pact signed with other opposition parties still subsisted.
It remains unclear how the MDC-T, which recently held its congress, hopes to use the name of a rival party which held its own congress in May 2019 where coalition partners agreed to form a single party.
MDC Alliance spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere accused the Mwonzara outfit of being a “Zanu-PF surrogate” trying “every trick in the book” to destroy the main opposition.
“They’ve tried taking our elected representatives. They stole our funds. They violently invaded our building. The theft of our name is the latest stratagem to try and hoodwink the people,” said Mahere.
Mahere hinted that the MDC Alliance was most likely to rebrand to outfox the continuous onslaught by the MDC-T which it believes are “orchestrated by the ruling party.”
“Our message to Zanu-PF is this: it’s not the name that will win us elections. It’s the people behind us who own the struggle. The people know who their leaders are. We’ll fight back and we will fight back politically,” added Mahere.
By-elections are due in dozens of municipal and parliamentary seats after the MDC-T, backed by the courts, recalled MDC Alliance elected officials.
MDC-T spokesman Witness Dube maintained that the MDC-T was “the principal party” in the “MDC Alliance electoral pact” which has a corporate membership of seven political parties.
“We intend to maintain our obligations to the other parties in this electoral agreement, which is still very much alive. Zanu-PF is not a member to this arrangement, therefore their views or perceived involvement is totally irrelevant to us as the MDC-T,” Dube said.
“We make no apologies on following through on the letter and spirit in which the late president Morgan Tsvangirai sought to harness the diversity of political opinions and masses for the purposes of winning elections.”
Dube added that the MDC-T was the “official opposition” prescribed by the courts and the party is “doing everything to present” the electorate with a “strong institution totally insulated from individual whims and personalised politics.”
On Tuesday the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) lifted a ban on voter registration but said by-elections would remain suspended due to the lingering threat paused by Covid-19.
Mahere slammed ZEC for keeping by-elections on hold, calling the move unconstitutional and a violation of citizens’ rights to electoral representation.
Election watchdogs, including the Election Resource Centre (ERC), and the Zimbabwe Electoral Support Network (ZESN) have cited elections elsewhere during the Covid-19 era, arguing Zimbabwe can do the same responsibly without risking the spread of the virus.