In a recent development, a Zimbabwe court has barred the majority of opposition candidates from participating in the upcoming by-elections scheduled for Saturday. This pivotal decision could significantly propel the ruling ZANU-PF party toward amending the nation’s constitution.
The ruling is part of an ongoing power struggle within the opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) amid escalating political tensions in Zimbabwe, rich in mineral resources.
The Harare high court’s decision, favoring Sengezo Tshabangu, disputed by CCC leadership as an impostor, marks a significant turn in this political saga.
Last October, Tshabangu, claiming interim secretary-general status, led the move to declare the seats of 14 CCC lawmakers vacant in parliament. This triggered by-elections in nine constituencies won by CCC in an August election marred by controversy.
In a bid to regain their seats, the recalled MPs sought to participate in the impending votes. However, Tshabangu contended that without his authorization, they couldn’t run under the CCC banner, securing a court victory.
As a result, the Harare judge ruled to exclude eight of the nine lawmakers from the ballot, prompting CCC to appeal the decision in the Supreme Court.
The CCC spokesperson, Promise Mkwananzi, expressed concerns over the court’s impartiality, highlighting the erosion of Zimbabwe’s judicial neutrality since President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s tenure commenced in 2017.
The potential victories of ZANU-PF in these by-elections would significantly bolster the party’s parliamentary strength, bringing it closer to the two-thirds majority needed for constitutional amendments. Currently, the ruling party falls short by ten seats in the 280-member parliament.
Observers speculate that ZANU-PF aims to eliminate the two-term presidential limit, potentially consolidating Mnangagwa’s control, given his tenure and age.
This legal maneuvering by ZANU-PF has drawn criticism, with long-standing accusations that courts are used to silence opposition voices and stifle dissent.
The situation has intensified political tensions in Zimbabwe since the August 23 vote, criticized by international observers for falling short of democratic standards.
The CCC, led by Nelson Chamisa, has decried intimidation tactics against its members, citing abductions and assaults. Despite Tshabangu’s claims, the CCC asserts he is not a member, casting doubts over his actions in recalling more lawmakers. The unfolding scenario underscores the ongoing political strife and uncertainty in Zimbabwe.