INTENSIFYING in-fighing threatens to widen fissures in the MDC-T’s Manicaland province amid allegations aspiring candidates’ CVs were found floating in Odzi River as the battle to represent the party in imminent general elections gets dirty.
Report by Elias Mambo
Manicaland provincial executive sources told the Zimbabwe Independent primary election campaigns have turned dirty after CVs for candidates challenging National Housing minister and MDC-T secretary for defence, Giles Mutsekwa, for the Chikanga-Dangamvura parliamentary seat were dumped in Odzi river in late January while ostensibly being transported to Harvest House in Harare, the party headquarters.
Mutsekwa faces a stiff challenge from five aspirants including suspended Mutare mayor Brian James, and lawyer Arnold Tsunga.
The five had to re-submit their applications last month after the party’s national executive agreed to extend the deadline from January 31 for those affected by the disappearance of CVs.
“I have re-submitted my CVs to contest both mayoral elections and as an MP,” said James. “I am keeping my options open because Local Government minister Ignatious Chombo may stop me,” he said.
James confirmed aspiring candidates’ CVs were found in Odzi river but would not be drawn into naming suspects.
Party sources claim candidates are now vigorously decampaigning each other.
“There is a serious smear campaign and sabotage from all parties, including sitting MPs and aspiring candidates,” a source said. “Mutsekwa is alleged to have thrown aspiring MPs’ CVs into Odzi river where they were found, but he says he never received any applications from the province.”
Mutsekwa refuted the allegations, saying there is nothing unusual with the de-campaigning going on in his constituency.
“I have nothing to do with aspiring candidates and the smear campaigns,” said Mutsekwa. “It is election time and one would expect such behaviour. Let the electorate be given an opportunity to choose whom they want.”
This is not the first act of sabotage cited within the party as it prepares for elections. MDC-T Masvingo province was also rocked by controversy following claims by aspiring candidates, including mayor Femias Chakabuda, aspiring mayor David Charirwe and deputy mayor Selina Maridza, that their CVs were tampered with to undermine their prospects.
Provincial party secretary Tongai Matutu acknowledged receiving the complaints, but denied any acts of sabotage.
“We received that complaint but we opened all the applications in the presence of 38 provincial members and studied them in an open transparent manner,” said Matutu. “The complaint is therefore without merit. Anybody who wants to represent the party can do so freely.”