We cannot bar Chamisa: Zec

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BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA

THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) yesterday said it could not block Nelson Chamisa and his party from using the MDC Alliance name, dealing a blow to MDC-T leader Douglas Mwonzora, who is claiming sole use of the acronym.

Mwonzora is seeking to rebrand his smaller faction as MDC Alliance, the name used by Chamisa and his party in the 2018 elections.

Last week, the MDC-T wrote to Zec chairperson Priscilla Chigumba asking her to bar Chamisa and his party from using the name and symbols.

Despite leading the MDC-T, Mwonzora said last week that he planned to contest the March 26 by-elections as MDC Alliance in what analysts said was a desperate move to confuse voters.

Zec spokesperson Joyce Kazembe told NewsDay in an interview yesterday that the electoral body would not interfere with disputes between political parties over names.

“We cannot block any party that would want to register with any name as long as the name brought is different from any other name that has already been registered with another political party,” she said.

“If there are other individuals who want to block others from using certain names which are different from theirs, we won’t entertain them. As long as the MDC acronym is used without making the name similar to the other names that have already been accepted as political party names, we can’t reject registration.”

Chamisa has insisted that his party will contest the March 26 by-elections under the MDC Alliance ticket.

The by-elections are mostly as a result of Mwonzora’s recall of MDC Alliance’s elected officials, accusing them of joining a rival party — the MDC Alliance.

Mwonzora has not bothered to explain the irony or double standards of his claim to the MDC-A acronym, critics say, accusing him of wanting to have his cake and eat it.

On Monday this week, the shadowy MDC Zimbabwe led by Thulani Gula Ndebele notified Zec that it would also contest the by-elections using the MDC acronym.

Mwonzora has not responded to the move.

MDC Zimbabwe was registered as a political party in November 2019, according to documents seen by NewsDay.

“Kindly note that we are not a derivative of any political party or grouping. We have never been subject to any alliance agreement nor court challenges or judgments. Therefore, MDC Zimbabwe must not be conflated with those who seek to limit political participation only to those who agree with them, via a supermarket of names and identities,” Ndebele said in a letter to the electoral management body.

United Kingdom-based Zimbabwean lawyer Alex Magaisa, a former adviser to the late MDC founding leader Morgan Tsvangirai, said Mwonzora could resort to the courts to block Chamisa from registering under the MDC Alliance name.

“In the past, we have seen the nomination court accepting several names with the same acronym. The electoral law requires a party to have a distinct symbol that does not resemble that of any other party,” Magaisa said.

“What will, however, happen is, if Zec cannot block the MDC Alliance from contesting using the MDC Alliance name, the electoral court may. Mwonzora may challenge the use of the name at the nomination court and proceed to the electoral court, where the judgment cannot be contested. There is no appeal and Zec will abide by the court ruling and stop them from using the name.”

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