PRIMARY elections to choose candidates for the National Assembly, Senate and local government polls conducted by the main political parties in Zimbabwe, MDC Alliance and Zanu PF, were characterised by chaos.
Candid Comment,Faith Zaba
This culminated in the chaotic scenes at the nomination courts yesterday in some parts of the country, which saw disgruntled Zanu PF and MDC Alliance supporters filing as independent candidates, while others from the alliance chose to contest under Thokozani Khupe’s MDC-T party. In essence, this means that both Zanu PF and the MDC Alliance ended up with multiple candidates contesting the same constituencies.
The chaos is a result of the two major political parties having failed to deal with internal disputes during their hotly-contested primary elections. Bigwigs in both MDC Alliance and Zanu PF were accused of imposing candidates during primary elections and also removing some winning candidates from the final party lists and replacing them with their preferred candidates.
This just goes to show that internal democracy is still very weak in both Zanu PF and MDC-T.
In Zanu PF, the primary elections were marred by irregularities, which included ballot papers being delivered late in some areas, people not finding their names on the voters’ rolls and allegations of stuffing of ballot boxes.
The tensions between civilian government and the military clique surrounding President Emmerson Mnangagwa, in addition to the generational differences, which saw the old guard losing to young Turks, the younger party members, has also exacerbated the situation in Zanu PF. The military has been accused of exercising veto power in some instances.
The issue of imposition of candidates, particularly by bigwigs who lost and came in through the backdoor, has also caused turmoil in the party. These bigwigs include Chris Mutsvangwa and Abdenico Ncube.
The MDC Alliance has also not been immune to internal democracy failures. The party’s so-called consensus model is just undemocratic. It is delivered by pressuring aspiring candidates to withdraw from the race in favour of the preferred candidate. It is more of a top-down approach.
This resulted in the chaos in areas like Harare West where the sitting MP, Jessie Majome, opted to withdraw from the race and stand as an independent candidate and in Kuwadzana where a last-minute deal was struck, paving way for Chalton Hwende to contest on an MDC Alliance ticket.
Glancing through the list of the party representatives shows that the two main political parties are not gender sensitive.
There is total disregard of the many declarations aimed at increasing women leadership and decision-making such as the Sadc Protocol on Gender and Development of 1997, Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (1979 and the Beijing Platform for Action of 1995).
In Zanu PF, only about 10% of women made it in the primaries and the figure is around the same or even less for the MDC-T Alliance. The primaries exposed the parties’ lack of internal democracy.