Senator Douglas Mwonzora, the leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), announced his withdrawal from the 2023 presidential race on Tuesday, 08 August 2023. This decision has triggered an analysis of the evolution of his stance on elections.
Mwonzora assumed leadership of the MDC, taking over from Thokozani Khupe, who had been serving as the interim president. The party awaited the Supreme Court-sanctioned Congress to elect its new leader. Since the passing of its founding leader Morgan Tsvangirai in 2018, the MDC has been embroiled in leadership disputes.
Both Khupe and Nelson Chamisa claimed to be the rightful successors until the courts ruled that the party should hold an elective congress.
After the courts ruled against Chamisa, the former Student leader decided not to participate in the congress where Mwonzora was elected as the MDC leader. Khupe alleged that the congress was rigged and eventually left the party to form a now-defunct splinter group.
Chamisa, along with some dissatisfied MDC officials and those who had been dismissed from the party for supporting him, regrouped and formed the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC). The party, with some members still representing MDC in Parliament, quickly gained momentum and overshadowed the MDC.
Mwonzora’s stance on elections: Makatimezha Kupi?
When the MDC expelled some of its members from Parliament and local councils for their allegiance to Chamisa, by-elections were triggered. Political analysts predicted that the Mwonzora-led faction would not win any elections due to its lack of popularity compared to Nelson Chamisa’s CCC. Mwonzora dismissed these claims, asserting that the MDC was prepared for elections.
He questioned, “munoti hatichina vanhu makatimezha kupi,” which loosely translates to “Where did you measure us to conclude that we lack supporters?” Watch the video below for more.
By-elections were held on 26 March 2022, and the MDC Alliance did not win even a single seat out of the 28 National Assembly and 121 local government seats that were up for grabs. The seats were divided between the ruling ZANU PF and the CCC with the latter winning the majority.
Mwonzora then predicted victory in the 2023 elections
Despite the previous setback, Mwonzora conceded defeat and announced that the party was regrouping and focusing its efforts on the 2023 elections. Last year, he told reporters that he had a dream in which the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) declared him the winner of the 2023 presidential race.
Mwonzora’s withdrawal from the 2023 Elections
Today, Mwonzora withdrew his candidacy from the 2023 presidential election, citing the poor management of the electoral process by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC). Watch the video below for more.
Some political analysts speculate that Mwonzora withdrew to avoid inevitable humiliation. The MDC recently lost an appeal in which its 87 parliamentary candidates were contesting their disqualification by the ZEC. This means that the party is now left with only 24 candidates competing in constituencies, excluding proportional representation. While Mwonzora’s constituency is the entire country, having more MPs would have been advantageous for him.