President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Wednesday announced that the long-awaited by-elections to fill 133 vacant local government and parliamentary seats would be held in March next year.

Mnangagwa made the announcement during an extraordinary session of the ZANU-PF Politburo, where he bemoaned factionalism and intraparty fighting tearing the ruling party apart.

Last month, Mnangagwa only said by-elections to fill 28 National Assembly and 105 local authority vacancies across the country will be held in the first quarter of 2022 but did not mention the exact month. Addressing the Politburo on Wednesday, Mnangagwa said:

As we prepare for the forthcoming by-elections next year in March, and the 2023 harmonised elections, let us focus on mobilising our membership to register as voters.

Stakeholders have been pushing the government to announce the election dates amid reports that opposition MDC-T had written to the president proposing that by-elections and 2023 elections be postponed until after electoral reforms have been implemented.

Some viewed the proposal by the opposition party as fear to lose the elections.

Most of the seats became vacant after MDC-T recalled MDC Alliance legislators and councillors following the 2020 Supreme Court ruling on the MDC leadership crisis. The court ruled that Chamisa’s ascendancy to power was in violation of the party’s constitution therefore it was null and void. 

While Mnangagwa is convinced that ZANU PF will prevail against the opposition in the 2022 by-elections, he also expressed concern over factionalism in the ruling party. 

There have been reports of party members physically attacking each other as they campaigned to land posts in the district and provincial structures.

More: NewsDay Zimbabwe