The by-elections held yesterday to replace recalled Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) members were a new low for Zimbabwe’s nascent democracy as the leading candidates were elbowed out of the electoral process under controversial circumstances.
A number of CCC legislators and councilors were recalled by the party’s self-imposed interim secretary general Sengezo Tshabangu barely a month after they were voted into office on August 23.
Tshabangu claimed, without providing any evidence that the affected elected representatives had seized being members of CCC.
Since he started his escapades, the former MDC-T official has not identified any CCC officials that are backing his decisions and we can only assume that he is on a lone mission that has nothing to do with the electorate.
One of the beneficiaries of Tshabangu’s recalls is Pedzisai Scott Sakupwanya of Zanu PF.
Sakupwanya was thoroughly beaten by Munyaradzi Kufahakutizwi in the Mabvuku-Tafara constituency before the legitmate MP was recalled by “mistake”.
Early this year Sakupwanya was named in a documentary by Qatar-based broadcaster Al Jazeera as a leading gold smuggler in Zimbabwe.
He has never disputed the allegations made by Al Jazeera, but now he is a lawmaker.
- Chamisa party defiant after ban
- Village Rhapsody: How Zimbabwe can improve governance
- News in depth: Partisan police force persecutes opposition, shields Zanu PF rogue elements
- Chamisa chilling death threat bishop defiant
Tshabangu won contested judgments to pave the way for the likes of Sakupwanya to go to Parliament through the back door and that cannot be described as democracy in any way.
There was more controversy on the eve of the elections when the High Court decided at midnight that the eight CCC candidates must be removed from the ballot even after they appealed a ruling by the same court.
Jeremiah Bhamu, a lawyer said he was “dragged out of bed” to represent the recalled CCC MPs despite that he did not receive any instructions from them.
The whole saga does not bode well for democracy as it would appear that everything possible was done to aid CCC opponents in the polls.
The by-elections saga also comes hard on the heels of the disputed August 23 elections that were condemned by regional and international observers as not free and fair.
Thousands of voters in Harare and Manicaland were disenfranchised after the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission failed to deliver ballot papers on time.
What yesterday’s by-elections mean is that for the next five years people in the eight constituencies and wards will be represented by people that were imposed on them through political skullduggery and that can never be celebrated by people who love their country.
Citizens must be allowed to choose leaders of their choice and that is the meaning of democracy.