With the government proposing to hold elections in mid-December for the new senate that it is reconstituting based on a controversial constitutional revision pushed through parliament in August, the opposition is trying to decide whether to take part in those elections or boycott them, leaving a clear field for the ruling party.
Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has begun a series of consultative rallies and meetings with members of his Movement for Democratic Change across the country to hear whether they think the MDC should field candidates in the election.
MDC spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi said the party is divided on the issue. Some say the opposition should have nothing to do with an upper house re-established through constitutional amendments imposed by the ruling party with its two-thirds majority in the lower house. Others say a boycott would hand the senate to the ruling party.
The MDC found itself in a similar bind in the run-up to the general elections held March 31. Party leaders said government control of the electoral process and the mass media tilted the playing field in favor of the ruling party. The MDC threatened to boycott and only confirmed in early February that it would reluctantly take part.
Justice Minister Patrick Chinimasa, who oversaw the amendment process that led up to President Robert Mugabe’s signature of the legislation September 9, has said the senate elections will be held in mid-December.
Reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe interviewed Zimbabwe Election Support Network Chairman Reginald Matchaba Hove, who commented that in any case the MDC should make a decision sooner than later to avoid confusion.