By Nkosana Dlamini
MDC-T secretary general, Douglas Mwonzora has defended his party’s boycott of successive national by-elections since 2013, a strategy adopted by the main opposition to force electoral reforms by the Zanu PF led government.
The strategy seems to have fallen flat as Zanu PF has adamantly refused to deliver the demanded reforms and has used the opportunity to grab seats abandoned by their rivals.
Since the 2013 electoral defeat blamed on massive poll manipulation by Zanu PF, the MDC-T and other mainstream opposition parties have elected to stay clear of the country’s mini-polls.
Only smaller parties still to make any meaningful mark in the country’s political landscape have taken part in the by-elections but have been trounced by Zanu PF.
In one of the cases, the poll boycott strategy by MDC-T has allowed Zanu PF grab a handful seats in the former’s stronghold Bulawayo province after the main opposition found itself turning away from its own constituencies all in a bid to strengthen its demands for a level playing field.
Until now, the MDC-T is still up in arms Zanu PF has failed to roll out comprehensive polls reforms, something that has exposed the party’s poll boycott stance as a hollow strategy.
But speaking in an exclusive interview with NewZimbabwe.com Friday, Mwonzora refused to admit the strategy has yielded no results.
“We boycotted all the by-elections after 2013 in order to push for key reforms and they have been movements in the area of reforms that the government has undertaken; for example, we now have the biometric voter registration system which was actually a product of our contestations.
“We do have a little bit of movement regarding the observation of the printing of the ballot paper, the accreditation of observers who are coming and coverage by the media although we still have a problem regarding the extent of that coverage by the state media.
“So, yes we have actually gained something from those protestations.”
While admitting more still needs to be done, Mwonzora said the MDC-T did not regret its poll boycott strategy.
“It brought Zanu PF and ZEC to the negotiating table,” he said.
“We did not only boycott elections, we staged demonstrations; we embarked on a diplomatic offensive.
“We embarked on dialogue as well. So, it is not as if we were just seated at home not doing elections. We were doing something about the reforms.”
The former Nyanga North legislator refused to be drawn into further comment on a possible return to the strategy should they lose the July 30 elections saying such scenario did not arise as they are poised to win the election.
The main opposition and its allies have called for a street march this Tuesday as a final push for elusive poll reforms under Zanu PF but insists it will not boycott the general elections.