SW Radio Africa (London)

1 February 2013

Zimbabwe: MDC-T 'Big Guns' Unchallenged in Party Primaries

Photo: Fikile
Zimbabwe prime minister designate Morgan Tsvangirai.

A number of the MDC-T 'big guns', including the party's national organising secretary Nelson Chamisa, are not facing any challenges for the party primaries.

By Thursday, the deadline date to submit applications, Chamisa was the only candidate to send in his CV to contest the Kuwadzana seat which he holds. The primaries are set to be held before the end of this month.

Others not being contested include the party's foreign policy guru, Jameson Timba (Mt Pleasant), secretary-general Tendai Biti (Harare East), Elias Mudzuri (Warren Park) and lesser known Fanwell Munengani (Glen View).

Many people in the MDC-T had written off Mudzuri after he lost his cabinet post in a reshuffle in 2011. They had already written his political obituary, going as far as speculating that he will be defeated in the primaries.

Outside Harare, deputy treasurer-general, Elton Mangoma (Makoni North) in Manicaland, and party spokesman Douglas Mwonzora, will sail through without going through the internal election process.

Mwonzora told SW Radio Africa that a substantial number of national executive and standing committee members are not being challenged in their constituencies.

'It's still early to say how many, as the process is still ongoing. The deadline was yesterday (Thursday) but a number of other districts have asked for an extension to deal with teething problems,' he said.

The Nyanga North MP explained that anyone with no challengers will automatically be duly confirmed as party candidates for the harmonized elections.

'It shows that most of our leaders and MPs have received a big vote of confidence by the electorate in their leadership,' said Mwonzora. He added that the party encourages competition, as evidenced by a huge number of applicants seeking to dislodge sitting MP's.

The spokesman explained that each application, sent via the individual's district executive, contains comments endorsed by the district leadership. The district leadership however is not empowered to disqualify candidates at provincial level.

'The verification of application has begun to see comments made from districts. So the process of qualification and disqualification has started. For some they will fall on this first hurdle, if as an example, their applications are endorsed with negative comments such as being found guilty of corruption or having had engaged in violence against each other,' Mwonzora said.

While it will be plain sailing for sitting MPs and cabinet ministers, it's not the case with Giles Mutsekwa, the MDC-T's National Housing Minister.

Mutsekwa is probably one of many cabinet ministers in the inclusive government who is facing an acid test in the party primaries. The current MP for Chikanga-Dangamvura in Mutare is being challenged by Brian James, the suspended Mayor of the city, and former footballer and popular lawyer Arnold Tsunga.

Meanwhile ZANU PF is set to hold primary elections after the referendum in March. Party spokesperson Rugare Gumbo said in Harare this week that the former ruling party would wait for the referendum to be held before they call for their primaries. He said ZANU PF was still crafting rules that would govern the primaries.

Political analyst Mutsa Murenje told us primary elections in any political party are mandatory and in the best interests of democracy.

'They provide us with an array of options so that after all is said and done, the winner will know he or she has the people's support. Some of the sitting legislators, as an example, found themselves in parliament not because of their talents, skills or experience but because of their financial muscle,' he said.

Murenje continued: 'Have they done anything to develop their areas or advance the democratic cause? Some are mere place holders and should therefore be challenged even by the young turks. No one is invincible in a democracy, pass the democratic test, primary election, and go ahead to deliver.'

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