7 December 2012

Zimbabwe: MDC-T Primaries Row Intensifies

Photo: Zimbabwe Independent
Supporters of President Mugabe's Zanu-PF party.

THE recently formed MDC-T Supporters' Forum has rejected as "undemocratic" the party's controversial proposal to hold confirmation exercises for sitting MPs, saying all aspiring party candidates must be subjected to open primary elections ahead of crunch polls next year.

The forum comprises the party's supporters from the high-density suburbs of Kambuzuma, Mufakose, Rugare, Dzivaresekwa, Warren Park and Kuwadzana.

It is a loose union of MDC-T district executives disgruntled over their party's selection process for candidates for the forthcoming polls.

The forum says it is totally opposed to the imposition of candidates, urging the party to stick to its founding democratic principles which must not be compromised to protect party heavyweights.

In a bid to protect their current seats from internal rivals, senior MDC-T leaders came up with a divisive confirmation method to circumvent open primaries ahead of general elections.

Under the confirmation process, the party's constituency structures would be asked to affirm the incumbent to be the party nominee by a majority vote, while primary elections would pit all aspiring candidates against each other.

The frustrated supporters have also started mobilising independent candidates they would defiantly campaign for in the event the party ignores their demands.

"There are scenarios which the supporters' forum has observed which are threatening the unity of the party," said the forum in a statement.

"First, current MPs, senators and councillors fear that primary elections would cost them their jobs. There are also those who did not make it in 2008; these are a group of political opportunists who take parliament and council as a commercial enterprise where they can earn salaries and make a living instead of ensuring public service delivery. Zimbabweans expect nothing short of real change."

The forum said supporters voted for change in 2000, 2002 and 2008, but now they would use their vote wisely and not allow the party to impose candidates.

"The party says it does not want to impose candidates for the 2013 elections when it is actually imposing them through the party constitution which pampers the national council with unfettered powers to decide the process to choose prospective candidates," the statement read. "This is dictatorship at its highest level."

The forum added: "The party has had the same MPs in most constituencies since 2000 because of this undemocratic method. They (MPs) have been misinforming the national elections directorate of the party that they obtained the two-thirds majority of the wards and branches to avoid primary elections in their constituencies. This process of confirmation is open to manipulation."

The forum wants the MDC-T to call for a meeting of the party's general membership in the constituencies where aspiring candidates would be nominated by 10 voters for them to contest primaries.

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