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‘Impose candidates at your peril’

MDC-T Harare supporters have warned the party of widespread voter apathy if it fails to uphold its resolution to subject all aspiring legislators to primary elections.

Report by Wongai Zhangazha

The supporters said current councilors and most MPs should not be re-elected because they had dismally failed on the service delivery front.

“If the party imposes them (councilors and MPs) on the people, there will be apathy (and) it will cost the party dearly in the next elections,” warned the supporters in a letter to the party.

In a bid to protect their current seats from internal rivals, senior MDC-T leaders had come up with a controversial confirmation method to circumvent open primaries ahead of general elections. 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.

The supporters suggested aspiring candidates should be over 35 years old, own property and be resident in the constituency they seek to represent. The candidates should also have five “O-Levels”, political experience and be credible.

The supporters demanded that Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai immediately addresses their concerns because the party’s current calibre of councillors and MPs was completely out of touch with their constituencies.

Read the letter: “The people in most constituencies do not know their MPs, councillors and senators because some of them have not held report-back meetings since 2008. The people are bitter in rural areas, some were injured, some lost relatives and property was destroyed and not even their MPs, senators or councillors have visited to console them. We have observed that they are busy with their personal businesses.”

The supporters said the method used in 2008 whereby prospective candidates volunteered instead of being nominated after stating their vision should never be repeated.

The residents also pleaded with Tsvangirai to visit grassroots branches, wards and districts in person and not listen to party structures which raise issues of protocol each time they demand a meeting with him.

MDC-T spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora confirmed this week the party’s standing committee had ruled that the party’s heavyweights would be subjected to primaries following a meeting at the party’s headquarters in Harare last week.

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