A boycott from this month’s harmonised elections as mooted by the MDC Alliance can only have an impact if it has the buy-in of all opposition parties.
The Alliance is bitter that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) is not transparent in its approach to electoral issues, including the printing of ballot papers.
If the MDC Alliance decides to boycott the poll, this will backfire spectacularly as other political parties will go ahead and contest, hence legitimising the process.
With 23 presidential candidates throwing their names in the hat, Nelson Chamisa’s withdrawal will be drowned by the participation of 22 other contestants.
The MDC Alliance will have to work hard so as to convince its members to also boycott the election; something which will be very difficult. It has also not invested in regional diplomacy and advocacy, hence will have very few backers if they pull out.
The MDC Alliance’s demands are very justified in terms of transparency and accountability, but with a few weeks before the polls, there is just no political will to implement these.
At the end of the day, the differences between MDC Alliance and Zec chairperson Priscilla Chigumba will result in the election being hotly disputed.
We hope Chigumba will be able to uphold her constitutional duty to deliver a free, fair and credible election in which the MDC Alliance participates.
Chigumba should know that Zimbabweans are coming from a long history of objective mistrust of the electoral processes; hence she has to tread fairly or risk spoiling her reputation.
This year’s election is a lesson to opposition political parties that the reforms they are demanding now should have been fought for years back.
As it stands, although Chamisa and the Alliance will cause serious challenges to Zec’s credibility and the efficacy of the election, this will not stop the polls from going ahead.
The Alliance, and in particular Chamisa-led MDC, should learn to listen to the voice of reason in that they backed Zanu-PF in a constitutional drafting process that was not people-driven, hence these constitutional problems arising now.
As of now, the MDC Alliance can bark, demonstrate or threaten boycotts but rest assured that the elections will still go ahead.
As it stands, the Alliance is bound to confuse its party membership because it is sending different signals on whether it is participating or not.