MDC-T and Zanu PF’s chances of winning a majority in general elections took a dent when some disgruntled party members refused to withdraw their independent candidature by last Friday’s legal withdrawal deadline.
The parties find themselves in a sticky situation with a combined 34 National Assembly constituencies with two or more candidates from the same party filing nomination papers and therefore running the risk of splitting the vote.
However, the MDC-T will be affected more than Zanu PF after most of the latter’s disgruntled members withdrew from the race except four.
The four remaining disgruntled Zanu PF members running are Jonathan Samukange (Mudzi South), Daniel Garwe (Murehwa North) and Marian Chombo (Zvimba North), who are running as independents, and Munyaradzi Kereke (Bikita West) who filed on a Zanu PF ticket together with the party’s endorsed candidate, Elias Musakwa.
Kereke has since been expelled from the party over the issue.
Among Zanu PF members who withdrew their candidature are Dorothy Mabika (Chipinge Central) and Christopher Chingosho (Headlands).
There are 28 MDC-T members who rejected the party’s directive to withdraw and thus became independents in Bulawayo (5), Matabeleland North (4), Manicaland (4), Matabeleland South (3), Midlands (3), Mashonaland West (3), Harare (2) and Masvingo and Mashonaland East with one each.
Among the prominent MDC-T members who filed as independents are former MPs Felix Magalela Sibanda, Samuel Sandla Khumalo, Prince Dube and Kidwell Mujuru in Bulawayo, as well as Misheck Shoko and Emmanuel Chiroto in Harare.
In Manicaland, the MDC-T has double candidates in Dangamvura/Chikanga, Giles Mutsekwa and Arnold Tsunga and independents Regai Tsunga (Mutasa South) and Geofrey Nyarota (Makoni South).
Other MDC-T members who ignored the party’s directive to withdraw are former MPs Severino Chambati (Hurungwe West) and Moses Mare (Chiredzi West). Former Gweru mayor Tedius Chimombe is also contesting on an independent ticket in Gweru urban.
Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo said the party was not worried about “rebels” and they should consider themselves expelled after standing as independents.
“The party resolved that all members who are still standing as independents have been expelled and should not use the party’s symbols and colours in their campaign materials. Our supporters have also been advised not to work with rebels,” Gumbo said.
MDC-T national organising secretary Nelson Chamisa said the development was bad for the party since it will split their votes, especially proportional representation seats.
“We are confident that the development does not affect our presidential candidate but obviously it will have a knockdown effect on those seats allocated under proportional representation,” Chamisa said.