Tuesday, May 26, 2015

By-elections: Zimbabweans pay for internal political party rows

THE current internal Zanu PF and MDC internal squabbles have come at a huge cost to the country with struggling tax payers forced to bear the pain financing successive by-elections, political analysts have observed.

Government is struggling for money, a crunch that forced finance minister Patrick Chinamasa to suspend payment of bonuses to state workers until 2017 before he was rudely overruled for political reasons by President Robert Mugabe.

A raging battle for control of Zanu PF by rival factions have seen party members, among them sitting MPs linked to ousted Vice President Joice Mujuru abruptly thrown out of the party for allegedly conspiring to overthrow President Robert Mugabe.

Similarly, the March recall of 21 MDC-T MPs who jumped ship to operate under the partially formed UMDC party saw the opening up of 14 vacancies to be filled in the June 10 by-elections.

More by-elections are seen coming after Zanu PF moved to both expel and suspend several senior members including nearly a dozen of its MPs, with threats of more dismissals in the offing.

According to ZEC estimates, it costs a whopping US$2 million to run a by-election per constituency with strong indications that government was improvising to finance current by-elections as the 2015 national budget did not factor in the running of the polls.

But analysts say while it is a constitutional requirement for the country to call for by-elections when there is such need, the current round of the mini-polls is a result of internal squabbles that unnecessarily overburden the tax payer.

Top academic and opposition Democratic Party leader Wurayayi Zembe rued what he said was a constitution imposed on citizens by the political elite saying it has allowed disagreements in political organisations to destabilise the running of the government.

"We are very worried because that has created an unnecessary instability in the country in terms of the governance, the national institutions like the executive, the legislature, and judiciary," he told NewZimbabwe.com weekend.

Economic strain

Zembe also said the current squabbles in the ruling party have caused too much anxiety among sitting MPs who view themselves as targets of the Zanu PF purge, in the process abandoning their tasks.

"People vote MPs into office so that their interests can be catered for," he said.

"These include the interest of running the state; health, education, roads, providing jobs, health and water but all that is not happening because of the instability caused by purely organisational problems.

"By-elections are also drawing from the meagre fiscal resources but the worst problem is that of instability which is going to cause more social risks in the country."

Harare based political analyst Masimba Kuchera admitted there were constitutional obligations to be met in by-elections but was quick to say the strain to the economy was worsened by the habitual mismanagement of the economy by the Zanu PF led government.

"It's a constitutional requirement but clearly why this becomes a problem is that the economy is being mismanaged to a point where the monies that are then used for by-elections can be better used elsewhere.

"That is why it now seems like a burden to the tax payer," he said.

Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo could not be reached for comment but MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu distanced his party from the rot saying the expelled MDC-T parliamentarians triggered their own dismissal after defecting.

He however, admitted this has come at a cost to the country.

"It's unfortunate that at a time when the economy is on its knees we are having by-elections galore but that is a problem of Zanu PF because it is Zanu PF that will recall several members of parliament and have threatened to recall even more."


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