PRIMARY elections are set to be fiercely contested across the political divide as the new draft constitution presents new dynamics with regards to the election of senators.
Most senior politicians had expressed their intentions to contest senatorial positions leaving a new crop of young turks battling for House of Assembly seats.
Some were even working closely with aspiring MPs with the hope they would represent their respective parties in senatorial elections.
However, the new constitution proposes that the senate consists of 80 members, of whom six are elected from each of the country’s provinces by a system of proportional representation.
Sixteen are chiefs, with two being elected by the provincial assembly of chiefs from each of the provinces, excluding the metropolitan provinces. There are also the president and vice-president of the National Council of Chiefs and two elected to represent persons with disabilities.
The draft constitution says women should be given special preferences in party lists. The new charter also states that male and female candidates be listed alternately, with every list being headed by a female candidate.
The new constitutional requirements present a challenge for most political bigwigs from all parties who have been propping up young hopefuls in order to take over as MPs in their previous constituencies.
One aspiring Zanu PF MP said the new charter has forced those who wanted to join the Upper House change their minds as senatorial appointment is no longer in their control.
“This new requirement has presented challenges to most of us who were being groomed to contest the parliamentary elections,” said an aspiring Zanu PF MP. “What it means is that focus has shifted towards the primaries because old guard officials who were eying the senate are now back in the ring. Imagine I now have to contest with my mentor and sponsor in the primaries,” he said.
A source within Copac said parties need to educate their members on the new draft constitution because some party members are already on the ground campaigning to be senators, yet the onus would be on the party to select senators based on proportional representation.
In Zanu PF, battle lines are already drawn as the old guard is campaigning for senatorial positions. In Masvingo Callisto Gwanetsa is gearing to square off for a Chiredzi senatorial seat with Masvingo governor Titus Maluleke. Retired Colonel Claudius Makova will battle it out with former Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono’s adviser Munyaradzi Kereke for the Bikita West senatorial seat.
The Chivi senate seat is eyed by former Masvingo governor Josaya Hungwe and Samuel Mumbengegwi, while Dzikamai Mavhaire will face competition from Clemence Makwarimba. Whilst most MDC-T senators were strategically positioning themselves secretly, Chisipite senator and Justice deputy minister Obert Gutu has been openly on the ground vigorously campaigning to retain his senatorial post.