23 November 2012

Zimbabwe: MDC-T Imposes Sitting Legislators

MDC-T has imposed sitting legislators on its members by resolving that they will not be contested in primaries to choose candidates for harmonised polls expected next year. Only MPs that fail to garner

a two-third confirmation by the party's leadership in their constituencies would be subjected to primary elections.

MDC-T spokesperson Mr Douglas Mwonzora said yesterday that the party resolved at its standing committee meeting on Wednesday to hold the primaries next month. The committee also made the resolution not to subject sitting MPs to the process.

The party has 96 seats in the Lower House out of 210 and 20 in the Senate out 88. Sources said it was unlikely that the sitting legislators would fail to get a two-thirds majority, dealing a major blow to aspiring candidates.

"It was resolved that primary elections in respect of areas where we do not have sitting MPs will be finished by December," said Mr Mwonzora.

"In areas where it is necessary to hold them for sitting MPs, we will start the process in January."

Mr Mwonzora said sitting MPs would be treated separately.

"Where we have sitting MPs, that person would be subjected to the structures of the party within the constituency who must confirm him or her," he said.

"If confirmed by two-thirds of the structures, that person would avoid primary elections. If they fail to garner the required support they will go for primary elections."

The move is likely to irk party supporters who would be denied the right to elect their preferred candidates.

It also casts doubts on the party's commitment to democracy and freedom of choice.

Mr Mwonzora said they would stamp out vote buying by prospective candidates.

"Vote buying is going to be treated as a serious offence. We talked about the issue of vote buying and anyone found guilty would automatically be disqualified," he said.

Mr Mwonzora said the party's standing committee set conditions for its participation in the 2013 elections.

"The standing committee noted that elections would be held in 2013 and insisted that the conditions for free and fair elections must be established," he said.

Among the conditions, Mr Mwonzora said there should be an end to alleged state-sponsored violence, demanded voter security, secrecy of the ballot and equal access to national media.

The party also called for an end to what they claimed was use of hate language allegedly by state media, but was silent on hate language by the private media against Zanu-PF and President Mugabe.

The MDC-T reiterated that principals in the inclusive Government had no role in the constitution-making process, saying the draft document must go to Parliament before it is subjected to a referendum.

MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai last week told his supporters to vote for the draft in the forthcoming referendum.

The MDC-T failed to complete its investigations on disciplinary cases some of them involving violence that occurred during its Bulawayo conference last year.

"The disciplinary issues are pending and are still before the disciplinary committee. They are being dealt with by the national chairman Mr Lovemore Moyo," Mr Mwonzora said.

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