THE MDC-T’s long-awaited primary elections commence this weekend amid accusations that behind the scenes some aspiring candidates are cutting deals while others have subtly been blocked from contesting against party heavyweights through the controversial confirmation process.
Brian Chitemba/Paidamoyo Muzulu
The divisive process reignites deep-seated factionalism within the party, particularly in volatile Manicaland, Masvingo and Bulawayo provinces. The provinces experienced intra-party violence leading to the 2011 congress in Bulawayo.
Fearing a humiliating defeat at the hands of emerging party contenders during the confirmation process or primaries, some sitting MPs have strategically chickened out of the race.
Most significant are deputy president Thokozani Khupe and Masvingo Central MP Jeffreyson Chitando who have stood aside and expect the party to second them to parliament under the proportional representation system in the new constitution.
Among the sitting and senior MPs facing challenges are outspoken Bulawayo East legislator Thabitha Khumalo, Housing and Amenities minister Giles Mutsekwa, Luveve MP Reggie Moyo, Mutasa South MP Misheck Kagurabadza and Manicaland spokesman Pishayi Muchauraya.
Khumalo, whose seat was initially reserved for a woman, is said to be battling to secure her position against Mandla Nyathi, Tarubereka Mabhena and Tinashe Kambarami. On the other hand Moyo is fighting it out with businessman Kidwell Mujuru who was once disqualified but reinstated after appealing to the party’s national council.
Mutsekwa would have to fight it out against lawyer Arnold Tsunga after former Mutare mayor Brian James this week said he had withdrawn his candidature and now supports Tsunga.
James also said he is awaiting the party to clear him to contest against Kagurabadza in Mutasa South.
Muchauraya will have to battle it out against veteran journalist Geoffrey Nyarota if he loses confirmation. Other interesting contests in Bulawayo will pit Pumula MP Albert Mhlanga against Speaker of Parliament Lovemore Moyo’s personal assistant Artwell Sibanda, and MDC-T deputy organising secretary Abednico Bhebhe will have to prove his mettle against Nomathemba Ndlovu in Nkayi South.
Meanwhile State Enterprises and Parastatals minister Gorden Moyo will stand unopposed in Makokoba constituency, while the party’s former youth assembly chairperson, Thamsanqa Mahlangu, is standing unchallenged for Nkulumane constituency.
The same scenario obtains in Harare where most of the standing committee members are unopposed after aspiring candidates were disqualified. Some of the major beneficiaries of the disqualifications are Finance minister Tendai Biti, Home Affairs minister Theresa Makone, Information Communication minister Nelson Chamisa and Economic Planning minister Tapiwa Mashakada.
Information gleaned from inside sources show that ambitious Harare councillors like Emmanuel Chiroto and Xavier Vengesayi had their applications turned down on allegations of corruption in council. The two had shown interest to contest against Biti and Makone respectively.
Sources close to the party say that a decision was reached to allow the standing committee members not to be contested. However, party president Morgan Tsvangirai insists there are no scared cows in the party.