MDC Blames ZanuPF’s Intimidation For By-Election Defeat

The opposition party, MDC, has pushed the blame on Zanu-PF for its loss in yesterday’s Nyanga and Bikita councils’ by-elections saying its supporters were subjected to intimidation and vote buying from the ruling party.

In a statement, the party’s secretary for elections Jacob Mafume said the democratic space in Zimbabwe remains closed for the opposition movements but was quick to concede defeat saying they had taken lessons from the by-elections

“The MDC notes the results of the Nyanga and Bikita By-elections, the party expected better results but lessons will be made use of in the upcoming elections.

We want to place it on record that the election environment is still characterised by closure of democratic space and abuse of state entities to the benefit of ZANUPF,” said Mafume.

The Nyanga seat fell vacant after the death of MDC Alliance councillor Elias Mashumba while he Bikita council seat fell vacant following the death of Zanu-PF Councillor Patrick Marozhe on April 15 this year and last week while on a campaign trail, MDC’s Vice Chairman, Job Sikhala was arrested for alleged treasonous comments he made in the are.

Mafume said the arrest of Sikhala was sent shivers within the opposition party supporters and stop them from exercising their constitutional rights

“Our Deputy National Chairperson was arrested for statements made on the campaign trail in Bikita, this creates barriers to free campaigns but more importantly, the episode was meant to intimidate the people of Bikita,” Mafume further stated.

“Issues of biased food distribution were also reported, last week there was a partisan distribution of rice and beans. The long and short of it is that the by-election results reflect a dividend of lack of holistic electoral reform. These are issues we demand to be resolved through dialogue to cure the cyclical phenomenon of disputed elections,” the MDC alleges.

Meanwhile, former Cabinet Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo said the MDC top leadership needs to be in touch with its supporters in an effort to boost its election victory.

“it’s hard to understand why the senior leadership of the MDC-ALLIANCE is conspicuous by its absence in these key by-election campaigns. Very hard. Imagine @jeremycorbyn not participating in crucial by-elections. The Lupane East by-election is beckoning!” he tweeted Sunday morning.

Zanu-PF and the MDC will square off in the Lupane by-election on 3 August in what will be a litmus test for the opposition as it tries to win the seat which fell vacant following the death of Zanu PF’s Sithembile Gumbo on April 15.

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