Some media houses recently carried a story based on a statement by Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) leader, Nelson Chamisa, threatening to boycott the forthcoming 2023 harmonised elections, arguing that the voters roll is not credible.
“If there is no credible voters roll, we are telling citizens that it is something that will be a deal breaker. We will not allow an election that has no credible voters roll in this country,” said Chamisa in an interview with a local weekly recently.
Well, Chamisa only came up with the threat to boycott 2023 elections after Zanu PF had successfully held its 7th National People’s Congress in October 2022.
The Zanu PF Congress endorsed President Mnangagwa as the party’s Presidential candidate for 2023 harmonised elections.
The endorsement of President Mnangagwa as the Zanu PF leader for the coming five years could have triggered shivers in Chamisa, which resulted in him rushing to issue the statement on boycott.
Since the 2018 harmonised elections where Zanu PF overwhelmingly won the mandate to lead the country until the next elections, the ruling party has not sat down and relaxed.
It has been organising and reconstituting its structures ahead of the poll. Zanu PF has made sure that its structures are well oiled and maintained.
From grassroots up to the top, Zanu PF has mobilised all its supporters to get ready for the 2023 plebiscite.
The 7th National People’s Congress marked the beginning of the revolutionary party’s mobilisation journey as it marches towards another landslide victory next year.
Zanu PF has always been on the ground with various empowerment projects for the people.
While the ruling party shows that it is geared for the forthcoming 2023 elections, the CCC, which claims to be the main opposition political party in Zimbabwe, is yet to put its house in order.
In July 2022, while in Chinhoyi, Chamisa reportedly disbanded interim structures carried over from its predecessor entity, the MDC Alliance, across the country.
They were supposed to have been replaced by yet-to-be announced constituency steering committees and ward co-ordinators.
The disbandment of the structures has left those who were holding positions within the party unsure of what the future holds for them.
Currently, the CCC structures are not well constituted and one cannot deduce who is who in that party.
Besides that, there is Chamisa as its leader and Fadzayi Mahere as its spokesperson. Others who constitute the majority of those in leadership positions are just place-holders.
They have no authority to speak authoritatively about the goings-on in that party.
The situation prevailing in the CCC party could be the reason why Chamisa is now threatening to boycott 2023 harmonised elections as he knows that time is not on his side to enable him to put his house in order.
Chamisa knows quite well that going for elections against Zanu PF, which has been on the ground mobilising its grassroots support base, could be catastrophic to him and his political party.
Zimbabweans are eagerly waiting to hear and see what political parties have in store for them by way of manifestos.
This would inform their decision on who to vote for in 2023. With CCC still to deploy on the ground, the party’s only strategy seems to be pushing for the retention of sanctions. On the other hand, Zanu PF is busy making sure that it is visible on the ground. That alone could be another reason making Chamisa to have sleepless nights over what to do next.
Calling for a credible voters roll, which in fact is in existence, is just a scapegoat. The CCC has been contesting and winning in by-elections held using the same voters roll. It is surprising that Chamisa is crying for a so-called credible voters roll when the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has been conducting by-elections using the same voters roll without any problems.
If Chamisa still wants the electorate to take him seriously, he should avoid trying to keep people guessing on what his party has in store for them ahead of the polls.
ZEC has been working harmoniously with all political parties. There is, therefore, no need to come up with such unsubstantiated complaints.
ZEC chief elections officer, Utoile Silaigwana, at one time urged political parties that had any issues about perceived violations of electoral laws, to report them to the police, but no such reports have been made.
“Aggrieved parties who observe violations of the code and feel that they are beyond the jurisdiction of multi-party liaison committees are advised to report such issues to the police, since such violations are deemed criminal offences,” he said.
“During elections, the commission also establishes multi-party liaison committees in terms of sections 160B, C and D of the Electoral Act to resolve electoral disputes and allied malpractices in an amicable way.”
If ZEC has such measures to deal with electoral disputes, the question that then arises is why Chamisa is failing to use ZEC protocols to resolve such problems before resorting to threats of boycotts.
Maybe those who are saying Chamisa’s electoral boycott threat is baseless and only meant to avoid defeat could be right.
Some are saying that Chamisa has run out of time to organise his party to challenge Zanu PF, hence he is trying to come up with those ill-informed decisions.
He wants to go into elections with such threats so that if finally defeated he would point that the voters roll was not credible and the electoral environment was not conducive for free and fair elections.
Some are saying, actually, that Zanu PF was supposed to be the one talking of boycotting elections as the country has been under sanctions for the past two decades.
Zimbabweans have borne the brunt of the illegal and debilitating sanctions imposed on the country by Chamisa’s masters in the United States and the United Kingdom to punish Zimbabweans for repossessing their land in 2000.
Boycotting or not, what Chamisa and his party should know is that President Mnangagwa and Government will not call off the polls in sympathy with cry-baby opposition political parties.
There are too many political parties in Zimbabwe and elections cannot be stopped simply because one of them has boycotted.
If Chamisa thinks his CCC should be treated above all other political parties in Zimbabwe, then he should face the reality that all political parties in the country are equal at law and no special preferences should be accorded to one.
Boycotting elections will be Chamisa’s own decision that will not have anything to do with Zanu PF and the other political parties, so elections will still go ahead as scheduled even if he chickens out.