One of Zimbabwe’s presidential candidates has withdrawn from the race, just two weeks before this month’s elections citing lack of conducive environment for a free and fair poll.
Douglas Mwonzora, the leader of the MDC-T opposition party, on Tuesday described the August 23 election as a “sham and a farce.”
MDC-T was the biggest opposition party in Zimbabwe until a 2022 split that led to the formation of the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) led by Nelson Chamisa.
Some 87 MDC-T parliamentary candidates were disqualified after the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) said they paid for their nominations late.
Mr Mwonzora said even if he won the presidential elections, he will not be able to push his agenda without any legislators.
“We are not going to be part of the baptism, blessing of this sham. This election is a farce,” he told journalists.
“We have seen massive disenfranchisement, mass disqualification of a good number of people. There is no doubt the MDC is being treated in a different manner from other political parties. It is because the MDC took Zec to court over delimitation. The delimitation that we fought against is now in force and its effects are now clear on this election," he added.
“Right now, as we are speaking, Zec is busy changing boundaries of wards and constituencies. It has added more than a 1,000 more polling stations because delimitation was invalid," he further said.
However, his withdrawal doesn’t reduce the crowded race. There are still 10 presidential candidates, down from the initial 12 who submitted their nomination papers on June 31.
Another candidate, the exiled Saviour Kasukuwere, was barred by the courts from taking part in the elections because he has lived outside the country for more than 18 months.
On Tuesday, Zimbabwe’s Constitutional Court rejected the former minister’s bid to reverse the ban.
Mr Mwonzora said the judiciary had taken sides in Zimbabwe’s electoral disputes.
“The judges have treated our cases on technicalities, we refuse to be part of that façade,” he said.
“Zimbabweans deserve a fair judiciary and abhor selective application of the law.
“We cannot stand all these shenanigans, unfairness and impunity in our electoral system.”
President Emmerson Mnangagwa (80), who is seeking his second full term in office after seizing power through a coup six years ago, is facing 45-year-old CCC leader Nelson Chamisa whom he narrowly defeated in the disputed 2018 elections.
The opposition says the outcome of the elections is likely to be disputed due to unlevel playing field and shambolic voters' roll.