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Zimbabwe's Opposition Weighs Participation in First Senate Elections

On Wednesday, Zimbabwe's opposition, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), will decide whether or not to take part in electing a senate. There is a growing call from MDC supporters to take part in elections.

MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai has repeatedly said the party should not take part in, what he says, will be another flawed election. He says money spent on staging the poll could be better spent on the civil service and food for the poor.

But, there has been a growing number of calls from other factions within the MDC encouraging the party to vote.

In second city Bulawayo, the elected MDC mayor Japhet Ndabeni-Ncube said the MDC cannot allow the ruling Zanu PF party to gain a political foothold in his province, Matabeleland.

"That would be very unfortunate. We shall put up some independents, support some independent candidates to fill that political space. We should never let it be free for Zanu PF. We must stop Zanu PF by all means. If it means supporting independent candidates that is it. I think we should do that," he said.

The MDC is waiting for its National Council, the party's chief decision-making body, to endorse the party's participation in the poll. This, some analysts say, is causing political tensions to grow within the MDC.

Zimbabwe political scientist John Makumbe says that while Mr. Tsvangirai was correct in calling for a boycott, in the absence of an alternative strategy the National Council should give the go-ahead to participate in elections.

The elections for a newly-created upper house, or senate, are set for November 26. The 66-seat body will consist of 50 elected members. The lower house, in which Zimabwe President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF holds the majority seats, will have authority to override Senate votes.