By Blessed Mhlanga
Main opposition MDC is up in arms with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) after its chief elections officer, Utoile Silaigwana, recognised a new political party calling itself MDC Zimbabwe.
Party leader Nelson Chamisa, through the MDC acting secretary-general Jameson Timba, is livid and has written to Zec, accusing them of trying to sabotage their chances of winning elections by creating confusion among the electorate.
“We have been made aware that some individuals purporting to be members have written to you purporting to notify you of their existence as MDC Zimbabwe headquartered in Gweru.
“We have also been made aware of a letter purportedly coming from yourselves in response to their notification wherein you have acknowledged and, indeed, accepted them as part of your stakeholders,” the letter read.
Timba accused Silaigwana of acting in a manner that is not consistent with his office and violating the constitutional provisions which govern his conduct.
“Firstly, as a key stakeholder represented in Parliament and known to you, we were not given an opportunity to express ourselves on the validity of the claim by any of the said individuals.
“May we remind you that you are a public officer in charge of a public institution and, as such, you should conduct yourself within the bounds of the Constitution and, in particular, the requirements of administrative justice,” Timba wrote.
The MDC wants Zec to withdraw its recognition of MDC Zimbabwe on grounds that they are illegally using a patented party name and if allowed to be used, can cause confusion.
“Our party logo and insignia including any variants are registered patents. The said persons have no authority to use our name or have any claim whatsoever.
“As such, we hold a firm view that the purported registration is null and void and should be withdrawn. We, therefore, expect you to notify the said individuals of our position and expect your offices to act accordingly in terms of the law,” Timba wrote.
Silaigwana said while he had not read the letter from the MDC, he was shocked by the MDC’s attack on Zec given that the electoral management body had no powers to register political parties.
“We have had political parties with similar names in the past and we still do now. We have Zanu PF, Zanu Ndonga, the MDC’s themselves have had MDC, MDC-T, MDC-N, MDC-99, and we have no power to segregate political parties or register them. All we can do is acknowledge their existence and add them to our database, so I don’t understand really where this is coming from,” he said.
Zec said it could only intervene when a political party uses a party symbol or logo that is prohibited by the Electoral Act, saying it held no other powers apart from those prescribed.
The MDC accused Zec of conniving with the ruling Zanu PF to confuse the voters by putting on the ballot paper similar names just to spoil Chamisa’s party.
“If you look at the 2018 general elections, the MDC-T led by Thokozani Khupe had close to 200 000 votes at parliamentary level, but at presidential, they only had 49 000.
“This was because there was confusion over party name and logo, allowing them to benefit from that, but at presidential, that confusion was not there and you saw how she performed.
This is a calculated ploy,” Chamisa’s spokesperson Nkululeko Sibanda, said.
Zimbabwe Elections Support Network has already proposed a law which will see political parties being registered to ensure that voters are not subjected to fly-by-night parties that just show up during elections. NewsDay