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MDC-T big shots to avoid primaries

IN a bid to ring-fence their current seats being eyed by internal rivals, senior MDC-T leaders have come up with a controversial confirmation method to circumvent open primaries ahead of general elections.

Report by Paidamoyo Muzulu

The party, which claims to value democracy as one of its founding principles, would resort to a mixture of a method of confirmation for sitting MPs, and primary elections – the standard practice – for constituencies in which it does not hold seats.

Under the confirmation process, the party’s constituency structures would be asked to affirm the incumbent to be the party nominee by a majority vote, while primary elections would pit all aspiring candidates against each other.

Over the last few months MDC-T bigwigs have been mulling various options to ring-fence their positions, including changing constituencies to safer ones.

The party has lately been struggling to contain deepening factionalism within its ranks and has been accused by “Young Turks” of shielding senior officials from potentially stiff contests through suspensions and other measures.

MDC-T recently expelled 12 councilors on corruption charges but they maintain they were fired for their ambitions of challenging senior officials for the right to represent the party in the national elections expected next year.

Disgruntled party members said the two methods seek to protect senior officials including secretary-general Tendai Biti, national organiser Nelson Chamisa, national executive committee member Elias Mudzuri, women’s assembly chairperson Theresa Makone and Local Government deputy minister Sesel Zvidzai.

“The party wants to protect some senior members and the plan is to initially forego party primaries in constituencies where there are sitting MPs,” said a senior party official. “This prompted the recent firing of some of the ambitious councillors, who want to become MPs, on charges of corruption.”

MDC-T national spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora confirmed the dual selection process, but denied it was designed to protect senior party officials from competition.

“The party has deliberately put in place a dual process of selecting party representatives,” said Mwonzora. “Sitting MPs would be subjected to a confirmation process initially and if they fail to get a certain threshold they would be subjected to primary elections”
However, Mwonzora could not elaborate on how the confirmation process would be held or how many members in a constituency would attend meetings for a decision to be binding.

Some sitting MPs, including Chamisa and Mudzuri, are said to be considering leaving Harare constituencies in favour of their rural home constituencies to avoid problems.

A recent MDC-T internal report titled “Corporate Governance and Service Delivery Audit of 10 Selected MDC-run Local authority Councils” which was used to fire the 12 councilors confirms  some were fired for being ambitious.

The report reads in part: “Some became ambitious and sought to topple sitting members of parliament at the very earliest opportunity. This bred conflict in the party structures eg Harare East, Warren Park and Hatfield.”

The report cites expelled Harare Ward 28 councilor Xavier Vengesai as an example of an “ambitious and undisciplined” member who was employing youths in his ward using his position , thus creating a base to topple Biti as Harare East MP.

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