Daniel Nemukuyu, Harare Bureau
AN implosion has hit MDC-T amid reports that the party leadership is imposing National Assembly and local authority candidates to represent the opposition party in the 2018 harmonised elections.
MDC-T members were yesterday up in arms over the so-called “consensus” approach adopted by their party in some constituencies, which saw candidates being imposed without holding primary elections.
The infighting has pushed the incumbent legislator for Harare West Ms Jessie Majome out of the race.
She has opted to stand as an independent candidate for the same constituency.
Around midday yesterday, MDC-T party members staged a demonstration which later turned violent outside Harvest House in Harare.
They were chanting slogans, raising placards and accusing some unnamed leaders of imposing their girlfriends as candidates.
A number of aspiring candidates were reportedly shut out sparking an unrest within the party.
Sources, who refused to be named for fear of victimisation, said they were not happy with the way the party affairs were being managed.
MDC-T’s national executive member Mr Amos Chibaya yesterday had a tough time trying to control the crowd that was demanding audience with the opposition party’s president, Mr Nelson Chamisa.
Our Harare Bureau’s photographer Tawanda Mudimu had to run for dear life after some MDC-T thugs mobbed him.
They manhandled Mudimu demanding that he deletes all the pictures he had taken during the demonstration.
One of the demonstrators told our Harare Bureau that imposition of candidates was destroying the party.
“A friend of mine submitted his curriculum vitae to represent MDC-T in Ward 2, Epworth, but a woman has since been imposed.
“Three other aspiring candidates can no longer contest in that ward. Under the circumstances, we cannot vote for someone who was imposed on us when the election time comes,” he said.
Some people are not happy with the party’s youth leader Mr Happymore Chidziva’s participation in the Highfield West National Assembly race saying he was from Kwekwe.
“We know they are propping up Chidziva who is popularly known as Bvondo to stand as a candidate for Highfield West unopposed but that is not fair.
“He is actually from Kwekwe and he cannot be imposed on the people of Harare,” said the source.
The MDC-T is reported to have reserved the Highfield West seat for the youths, to the exclusion of senior party members and former legislators for the constituency.
In Kuwadzana, sources said, the party leadership was pushing for the acceptance of its vice youth chairperson Mr Shakespear Mukoyi.
“They want Mukoyi to represent the party in Kuwadzana but he is over 45 years old. He is no longer a youth. Again, he is not the people’s choice and he cannot just be imposed on us,” said another source.
Violence also rocked the MDC-T consensus meeting in Glen View and Chitungwiza.
Some sitting and aspiring candidates had to flee for their lives as youths bayed for their blood in chaos riddled meetings. The party has directed party candidates to hold consensus meetings to avoid holding primary elections, a strategy that has been perceived by some as a ploy to impose preferred candidates.
In Glen View North, sitting Legislator Mr Fani Munengami fled the scene while Mrs Vimbai Tsvangirai Java had to be escorted as party supporters protested why she was coming to contest in Glen View South constituency.
Party supporters rapped Mr Chamisa for trying to impose Vimbai, the daughter of founding MDC-T president Mr Morgan Tsvangirai, who succumbed to colon cancer in February this year.
In Zengeza West, a tension-filled consensus meeting was aborted after just 10 minutes after sitting MP Mr Simon Chidhakwa failed to agree with aspiring candidates Messrs Job Sikhala and Rangarirayi Mutingwende.
When contacted for comment, MDC acting national chairperson Mr Morgan Komichi admitted that consensus meetings held at the weekend were rocked by violence.
He accused disqualified candidates of fanning the violence.
“These consensus meetings are a process that does not even require violence or conflict as what has happened in some few areas. It is a voluntary process of consensus building and once that fails we subject people to primary elections,” said Mr Komichi.
“Violence is being caused by disqualified people who are buying beer for some misguided youths who are not even our party members. We sat as an Appeals Committee and resolved about 90 cases and our doors remain open.”
A pro-opposition pressure group, Heal Zimbabwe, has since issued a statement castigating the MDC-T violence.
“Heal Zimbabwe is appalled by episodes of intraparty violence that rocked MDC-T consensus meetings in several districts across the country,” said the pressure group yesterday.
Sources in the party condemned Mr Chamisa for introducing the consensus meetings to cover up his bid to impose his cronies.
“In Glen View South, Vimbai does not even stay there nor her in-laws. She has no links to the constituency that would warrant her to be there. This has frustrated some candidates that have worked tirelessly for the past years in the constituency. The constituency has been declared as reserved for women and we perceive it as a ploy to elbow out former MP Mr Paul Madzore who has since rejoined our party from the Tendai Biti formation,” said another source.
Mr Chamisa has also been accused of imposing Collins, Mr Tsvangirai’s younger brother, as a Senator in Manicaland. In Harare West constituency, Ms Majome said she would stand as an independent candidate in the harmonised elections following her withdrawal from the opposition party’s primary elections.
She is citing the breach of MDC-T guidelines on elections by the party’s leadership.
Addressing Harare West residents in the constituency yesterday, Ms Majome said: “Dear Harare Westerners, our journey together has not ended. You have shown me through the feedback you have given me that this cannot be the end.
“On that token I hereby announce that I will be standing in this coming general election as an independent candidate to represent our voice and our will as Harare Westerners.”
Ms Majome said in view of the path she and her supporters have taken, they needed “all hands on deck” and invited volunteers to assist in various aspects of “this cause.”
She said the party’s primary elections have turned into a lottery of “who has more party cards rather than winning the hearts and minds of Harare Westerners”.
She alluded to issues like the voters’ rolls, ballot papers and the actual voting process, which she said were not clear.
“The election criteria on its own is shrouded in mystery to such levels that even district structures who are supposed to run the elections are not in full picture on them,” Ms Majome said.
“My conscience and our principles as Harare Westerners cannot allow us to participate in a process that will suffocate our voice in petty party politics.
“At national level our party has suffered electoral injustices which through my work in Parliament I have fiercely fought. As this election is upon us we as a party have been fighting for reform of these unfair processes.”
Ms Majome said it was on record that the opposition party leadership feels they cannot participate in an unfair election unless reforms are made.
“How then do I allow myself and most importantly Harare Westerners to participate in a primary where my party is failing to promote the same fairness we are advocating for.”
Ms Majome is the first Member of Parliament to represent Harare West following her election in 2008.
She was re-elected to represent her constituency in 2013.
There are allegations that Mr Chamisa is imposing Ms Joana Mamombe in Harare West.