Welcome to Africanews

Please select your experience

Watch Live



Analysis: The stakes and reasons behind Zimbabwe's upcoming by-elections

Supporters of Zimbabwe's main opposition leader Nelson Chamisa hold placards upon his arrival for a a rally on the outskirts of Harare on Sunday, July 17, 2023.   -  
Copyright © africanews
Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP


Zimbabwe will hold nine by-elections on Saturday (Dec. 09) with opposition candidates largely absent.

Zimbabwe's main opposition party (CCC) was left bruised after August's elections which saw President Emmerson Mnangagwa secure re-election.

The CCC's disappointments continued when a contested politician triggered the expulsion of some of the party's MPs and that the Speaker ordered by-elections.

Political analyst Rejoice Ngwenya breaks up the stakes ahead of Saturday's vote.

"Well let's put it this way, Zanu-PF has always been desperate for a two-thirds majority, it's only that the last election it was very clear that they were not going to get it so my strong feeling is that they have manipulated this electoral by-election system so much so that they are able to weed off a number of competitors that were in parliament."

ZANU-PF is currently 10 seats short of the supermajority needed to amend the constitution in the 280-member parliament.

Analysts believe it wants to remove a two-term presidential limit. This would allow Mnangagwa, 81, to counter any challenge to his leadership from inside his party or the opposition.

Groups have denounced a shrinking of civic space under president Mnangagwa.

"The Zimbabwean opposition is very resilient because remember that since 2000 there have been a number of attempts at destabilising the opposition. It did split in 2005 but it managed to gather itself and competed very strongly against Zanu-PF," analyst Rejoice Ngwenya says.

Alleged imposture

At the heart of the CCC's turmoil is Sengezo Tshabangu. He penned letter laden with spelling mistakes in October. This little-known politician claimed to be the CCC's interim secretary-general.

His letter was addressed to the ZANU-PF parliamentary speaker, it stated that 15 CCC lawmakers elected in a bitterly contested August election had ceased to be party members and should lose their seats.

The CCC leadership called the man an imposter but the Parliament speaker heeded him and ordered by-elections except in one seat where Tshabangu had misspelled the name of a lawmaker.

ZANU-PF has denied causing the turmoil even though it has most to gain.

"We have an irresponsible opposition that is selfish and is self-imploding," party spokesman Farai Marapira told AFP.

"[...] the election that we are looking at on Saturday are based on a recall factor that was invoked by a so-called secretary general of the opposition party, CCC [Citizens Coalition for Change]," Rejoice Ngwenya explained. 

"The legitimacy of the recall is debatable but basically the statutory obligation of a recall is still valid."

The Harare high court ruled in favour of Sengezo Tshabangu Thursday (Dec. 07).

This barred most opposition candidates from running in Saturday's vote.

View more