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HARARE – MDC leader Douglas Mwonzora has withdrawn from the 2023 Presidential election race, citing what he perceives as a systematic collusion between the state and Zanu PF.
He contends that this collusion has created an uneven playing field, rendering a genuinely free and fair election impossible. Mwonzora made this announcement during a Press Conference in Harare on a Tuesday morning.
He began by pointing out the events of December 2022 when the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) produced a Delimitation report that he deemed flawed.
He stressed that this report was widely condemned by Parliament and parliamentarians across the political spectrum. Despite the MDC’s challenge of the report in the constitutional court, Mwonzora asserted that interference of the judiciary prevented them from obtaining justice.
Mwonzora further highlighted the disqualification of 87 party candidates during the nomination stage on June 21. He attributed this disqualification to ZEC’s actions, which, in his view, made it unfeasible for his party members to pay their nomination fees. He perceived ZEC’s lack of impartiality and the subsequent court endorsement of their decision as an instance of bias against his party.
He firmly stated, “We are denouncing this spectacle. We are rejecting this charade. We are refusing to partake in this presidential election.”
Mwonzora underlined that ZEC declined to accept nomination papers for 87 candidates from his party for the National Assembly, highlighting that even if he were to win the presidency, he would lack control over the parliament.
Mwonzora elucidated that while 24 of MDC-T’s constituency candidates who successfully filed nomination papers would still engage in the election, the party had witnessed significant disenfranchisement. He argued that the differing treatment of the MDC compared to other parties was due to their legal challenge of ZEC’s delimitation.
“The delimitation we contested is now in effect, and its consequences are evident in this election. At present, ZEC is actively altering ward and constituency boundaries. The invalidity of the delimitation is becoming evident as they’ve added more than a thousand polling stations,” Mwonzora explained.
The MDC leader explained that he believed in upholding a certain level of integrity within the electoral system. He stated, “The widespread disenfranchisement of our citizens, the discriminatory treatment of our party by the election management body, and with my party’s concurrence, I am withdrawing my candidacy from this election. We are refraining from endorsing this spectacle, we are abstaining from participating in this farce, and we are boycotting this presidential election.”
He shared that he had informed ZEC of his withdrawal and explicitly requested the removal of his name from the ballot paper. He expected ZEC to publicly acknowledge his withdrawal.
During the news conference, accompanied by his secretary general Tapiwa Mashakada, Mwonzora clarified that he would still cast his vote in the election but would not endorse any specific candidate.
He asserted, “When you are boycotting, you have no one to endorse; you are refusing to take part. Why would we endorse someone’s participation in a mockery, in an act against the Zimbabwean people?”
While emphasizing his dedication to democratic principles throughout his political journey, Mwonzora affirmed that he would not support Zanu PF.
“Yes, I will vote, and my vote will go to the opposition,” he confirmed.
Mwonzora also expressed criticism for Zimbabwe’s judiciary, which dismissed his party’s appeal to reinstate the 87 disqualified candidates. He criticized the judges for focusing on technicalities and stressed the importance of a fair judiciary that applies the law uniformly.
“We won’t preempt our future actions. We will return to the drawing board to initiate a program aimed at ensuring genuine free and fair elections in our nation. We will reconnect with the people; the citizens of Zimbabwe deserve elections that are truly transparent and equitable,” Mwonzora concluded.
Zimbabwe initially had 12 presidential candidates, but independent candidate Saviour Kasukuwere was barred by a court, though he is currently appealing. Mwonzora’s withdrawal will reduce the field to 10 candidates, including the incumbent Zanu PF leader, Emmerson Mnangagwa, who seeks re-election.