19 November 2012

Zimbabwe: Tsvangirai Warns Against Imposition of Candidates

In his effort to re-position the MDC ahead of the crucial elections next year, party President Morgan Tsvangirai has urged people to abstain from the culture of imposition of candidates, insisting that candidates must be elected democratically.

The Prime Minister gave the warning at a rally in Buhera over the weekend, saying the imposition of candidates is contrary to the wishes and aspirations of people.

He said consensus among candidates was the best option that would pave the way for an amicable resolution of problems and ensure the success of the party.

The Prime Minister appealed to party loyalists to do everything possible to put their house in order for the party's total success, acknowledging that he knew there were cases of divisions rocking the party.

The Premier also stressed the need for unity among party members for it to emerge victorious in elections expected in 2013. Tsvangirai also threatened to axe party officials implicated in vote-buying.

'We don't want those who buy votes. Let people choose who they want. If I hear reports of vote-buying, I will suspend that person. Some youths are behaving like ZANU PF youths and imposing candidates. Wherever you are getting that, stop that nonsense,' he said.

Morgan Komichi, the national deputy chairman of the party, reiterated that the MDC-T does not impose candidates on its members, following concerns the party was protecting its sitting MPs.

Aspiring candidates have complained that the system of confirmation ensures that some undeserving MPs will get the party nomination simply because of loyal party members in the structures, who will vote for them despite the fact that they've doing nothing for the constituency.

Komichi, who is aspiring to contest the Sanyati constituency which is currently held by ZANU PF, said the confirmation process for incumbent MPs is like any other democratic process.

'Party structures in the constituency where we have an MP will sit down as an electoral college and vote by secret ballot to retain the MP or not. Any MP who gets 51 percent of the vote will automatically represent the party.

'Anyone who fails to get the required percentage will be given another opportunity to fight for a place in the primary elections,' Komichi said.

The party will hold its primary elections in constituencies that don't have MPs, in early December. After that they will have confirmation elections in

areas where the have sitting MPs.

The popular deputy chairman reassured party members that there will be no imposition of any aspirant on the party. He said the resolution of the leadership of the party was to ensure that credible and popular candidates emerge as party candidates from the primaries.

'The whole idea of subjecting ourselves to primaries and confirmations is to ensure that the most popular candidates, capable of defeating ZANU PF candidates, emerge from the process,' he said.

US based political analyst Dr Maxwell Shumba said the imposition of candidates usually results in the loss of crucial seats during an election. In 2008, the MDC-T lost about 10 seats they could have easily won, after allegations in Midlands South of the imposition of candidates.

Disgruntled members ended up contesting party nominees in the election, splitting the votes and giving victory to ZANU PF candidates.

'Imposition of candidates is the extreme opposite of democracy. It also denies voters their constitutionally guaranteed right to elect candidates of their choice, people who will represent them in parliament if they win the elections,' Shumba said.

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