SW Radio Africa (London)

Zimbabwe: MDC-T Primaries Kick Off Friday

The MDC-T will on Friday begin its internal election process to choose candidates who will represent the party in parliamentary, senatorial and council elections in the forthcoming poll.

Party spokesman Douglas Mwonzora told SW Radio Africa on Thursday that the exercise will start with the verification process of the electoral colleges in each of the 210 constituencies.

The electoral colleges are made up of members of the MDC-T who are based in various political wards and districts in every parliamentary constituency countrywide.

'Each constituency should be able to verify who will take part in the voting process to elect the candidate to fly the party flag in the harmonized elections. So those who finish the verification exercise early should be able to go straight to the primary selection process,' Mwonzora said.

The Nyanga North MP, who is not being challenged in the primaries, together with a host of other party heavyweights, said the number of candidates cleared by the party to contest the primaries was the highest since the party was formed in 1999.

'One thousand candidates will battle it out to represent the party in 210 constituencies, making it an average of five contestants per constituency. Over 3,000 members applied to stand as councillors for the 1,968 council seats while only 100 people want to fight for the 60 senatorial seats,' he said.

Mwonzora said they're expecting 'good natured' battles in the primaries, an exercise that usually leaves defeated candidates bruised and ready to stand as independents.

The spokesman however explained that new electoral rules adopted by the three parties to the GPA outlawed any aspiring candidates wishing to stand as independents, whilst using the party symbol from any of the parties they come from.

'If anyone from the MDC-T wishes to stand as an independent they'll have to use their own symbol for the ballot paper and not our party symbol. This is something that cost us seats in the last election where we had parallel candidates running under the party symbol, thereby splitting votes,' Mwonzora added.

Analysts told us that out of all its sitting parliamentarians and senators who won in 2008, there are predictions a good number will not make it past the primaries, as they have failed to deliver.

Political analyst Sanderson Makombe predicted recently that MDC-T supporters would rather elect their parliamentary candidates on merit, and not their standing in the party.

'There is this feeling that the party elected the wrong people during the last party primaries. They're allegations some of them paid their way through to ensure their victories, resulting in the defeat of true, competent and legitimate candidates,' Makombe said.

He continued: 'Some of the current crop of councillors and MP's are embroiled in corruption and loss of integrity, so much that they face a huge task to convince people to re-elect them. There will be shocks certainly as some senior MPs will definitely lose the right to represent the MDC-T.'

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