Zimbabwe’s recent by-elections, held on Saturday with the absence of any opposition candidates, have drawn sharp criticism from the opposition, labeling the process as “a charade” and a blatant disregard for the country’s Constitution.
In a strongly worded press release, the leading opposition party, the Coalition of Citizens for Change (CCC), condemned the by-elections as a deceptive move. The CCC announced its intent to pursue legal action, decrying the events as a “judicial coup against the right to vote and be elected,” and highlighting them as a direct violation of Zimbabwe’s Constitution. The final results from the election are expected to be announced in the coming days.
In the days leading up to the polls, a figure identified as Sengezo Tshabangu, purportedly the “acting general secretary” of the CCC but labeled by the opposition as an “imposter,” managed to obtain court orders excluding all nine opposition candidates from the election.
In August, President Emmerson Mnangagwa secured a second term, and his ZANU-PF party secured 177 seats out of 280 in Parliament in a general election that faced contestation over its fairness.
However, in October, a controversy emerged when 14 opposition MPs lost their seats. Sengezo Tshabangu claimed these MPs had departed from the opposition party, leading to the declaration of their positions as vacant by the ZANU-PF Speaker of Parliament, thereby setting the stage for the recent by-elections.
The CCC criticized this sequence of events as “a series of judicial absurdities,” alleging the government’s firm intent to erode democracy in the southern African nation.
Observers opine that the by-elections conducted without opposition candidates could be a strategic maneuver by the ruling regime to expand its control. There are concerns that this may pave the way for constitutional amendments allowing President Mnangagwa to extend his tenure by reducing the limit of presidential mandates.
The opposition’s outcry against these events underscores growing concerns about the erosion of democratic processes in Zimbabwe.