After a Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (ZANU PF) victory in the 2013 general elections, the Movement for Democratic Change led by Morgan Tsvangirai (MDC-T) retained dominance in Zimbabwe’s two major cities, Harare and Bulawayo. The intra-party turmoil in both ZANU PF and the MDC-T that followed the elections resulted in both parties expelling former members. As per Zimbabwean electoral laws, by-elections were declared in constituencies where the expelled member won the parliamentary seat on a party ticket. The major by-elections of 10 June 2015 resulted from the expulsion of 14 members from MDC-T and 2 members from ZANU PF whose parliamentary seats were liable for contest. The elections were boycotted by MDC formations, led by MDC-T, while ZANU PF saw the by-elections as room to regain dominance in Harare and Bulawayo. This article argues that while the MDC-T boycotted, the elections became a referendum to determine which party had dominance in the two major cities. It argues that the MDC-T’s boycott was in actual fact active participation from outside given its campaigns against the elections and that the outcome of the elections which was claimed by MDC-T as a victory showed that ZANU PF had not regained the required threshold to claim that it had regained its urban support. The article combines both qualitative and quantitative data in analysing the elections outcomes and making conclusions. Text analysis, especially from the pronouncements made by senior party members or speakers in their capacities as speaking on behalf of the party, acquired mostly from newspapers, was used. Statistics from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission or other credible and known election and advocacy civic organisations were used for the basic analysis of the elections outcomes. However, the thrust of the research is not meant to analyse the whole legal or other political contexts of elections in Zimbabwe. The paper is limited to analysing which party truly won the 10 June 2015 by-elections between ZANU PF which led in campaigning for the elections and the MDC-T and in extensions its two formations who led in campaigning for a boycott in light of the theory of democracy and legitimacy.
Key words: ZANU PF, MDC-T, Zimbabwe, 10 June 2015 By-elections.
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