Although the leadership of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) formation led by Morgan Tsvangirai recently reaffirmed its stance to shun parliamentary by-elections until there are visible electoral reforms, not all party members support this move.
One of the disgruntled supporters is Tendai Mango, who said despite valid claims of past electoral irregularities and the need for reforms, it is wrong for the party not to participate in by-elections as Zanu-PF would take full advantage of the situation.
Mango said, “I am personally against the decision to boycott by-elections because Zanu-PF will use this to its advantage. My opinion is that we should soldier on because by withdrawing, it would appear as if we are afraid of Zanu-PF.
“We should go ahead and participate in every election because if we pull out, Zanu-PF will be convinced that we do not want to participate because we fear to lose to them. Let's take part in the elections.”
Mango is among several other MDC-T supporters, who attended Tsvangirai’s rally in Gweru last week where the MDC founding president further noted that they will continue the boycott until there are tangible electoral reforms in the country.
They also expressed concern that the MDC-T does not seem to have a clear plan on what else to do in terms of ensuring that there are electoral reforms besides boycotting the elections.
Tsvangirai could not be drawn to discuss the issue after the rally only stating that Zimbabweans should not sit back and expect other people to solve their problems for them.
Sources say there is division even among the party's top leadership over the decision to boycott the by-elections.
But supporters like Tinashe Zimbave are solidly behind the decision to boycott the by-elections. He said the party should go further and withdraw from parliament.
Zimbave said, “As Zimbabweans, if we put our heads together and rally behind Tsvangirai with his decision to boycott elections, it will be impossible for President Mugabe to continue to run this country alone; I wouldn't see him staying in office until 2018.
“I am a hundred per cent behind Tsvangirai. He is correct and his decision is not for his own benefit but because he sees that ordinary Zimbabweans have suffered for long. It's pointless to have MPs who live a good life while the rest of the people suffer.”
Didmus Sewa, a development, peace and conflict resolution studies lecturer with the Zimbabwe Open University speaking as an independent analyst, said he agreed with the view that the MDC-T's boycott could have far-reaching negative consequences for the party.
Some observers say instead of having an apparent top-down decision, the MDC-T should have consulted its grassroot supporters in order to get a more widely accepted resolution that would guarantee a unified vision.
The by-elections resulted from the recalling of MDC Renewal party lawmakers, who were recalled by the MDC-T.