The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Widespread Voter Apathy Mars MDC-T Primaries

MDC-T's primary elections and the controversial confirmation process have been fraught with widespread voter apathy even in perceived strongholds, throwing the party into panic mode ahead of harmonised elections due by July 31.

The MDC-T acknowledged the apathy in one of its election strategy documents titled "Priority Activities ahead of 2013 Elections MDC-T", where it admitted to low voter registration turnout in its perceived strongholds.

"There is low voter registration in MDC strongholds, therefore massive voter education and registration information and publicity has to be engaged," reads the document in part.

The MDC-T has since failed to find candidates willing to stand on its ticket in four constituencies in the Chiredzi and Mwenezi districts of Masvingo even after dangling financial inducements. The affected constituencies are the Zanu-PF fortresses of Mwenezi East, Mwenezi West, Chiredzi North and Chiredzi East.

So dire is the lethargy that most of the candidates who were confirmed in Harare, Chitungwiza and Bulawayo failed to garner at least two-thirds of the total prospective votes in a given constituency.

According to the MDC-T constitution, a constituency electoral college consists of at least 1 230 eligible voters, a figure arrived at by multiplying the number of people in each ward (123) by the number of wards in a constituency (on average nine wards) translating to 1 107 eligible voters, add to this another 123 members who are in leadership positions in every constituency and you get 1 230 voters.

The figures released by the party show that some of the candidates who were declared winners in the primaries and confirmation process managed votes as low as 32 in some cases. And the processes had to be postponed in some constituencies after voters or presiding officers failed to turn up, a case in point being Bulawayo South where Eddie Cross's confirmation had to be postponed.

In Harare, where the MDC-T drew the bulk of its support in the last election, the story was no different. For instance, Mr Fani Munengami was confirmed as MDC-T candidate for Glen View South constituency after getting only 83 votes while Mr Paul Madzore, the Harare provincial chairman, was retained as the party's candidate for Glen View North although he managed just 140 votes.

Although Mr Solomon Madzore won the ticket to represent the party in Dvivarasekwa, we are reliably informed that the voting was characterised by intimidation and expulsion threats.

Those who garnered considerable votes in Harare and Chitungwiza are Mr Alexio Musundire and Ms Lucia Matibenga who garnered 292 and 240 votes respectively.

The numbers, although substantial, are way below half of the party's constituency electoral college.

In Bulawayo, Mr Prince Dube won the ticket to represent the MDC-T in Entumbane/Emakhandeni after getting 81 votes in an election that pitted eight contestants. The Entumbane/Emakhandeni constituency fell vacant after the death of Mr Cornelius Dube.

Mr Reggie Moyo was confirmed for Luveve constituency after getting 116 votes and Pelela Masuku beat four other contestants with 170 votes to stand as the party's candidate for Nketa constituency.

The Nketa constituency fell vacant following the death of Mr Seiso Moyo last year.

The situation was worse in Mashonaland East and Central where one Joseph Matambo beat three other contestants with 55 votes to stand for Murehwa North while Mr Maxwell Mandimutsira could only muster 68 votes for Mazowe South.

Mr Andrew Mupunga was declared MDC-T candidate for Guruve North after garnering a paltry 32 votes, defeating Mr Obert Majaya who got nine votes.

In Mazowe West, Mr Wilfred Mushonga beat three contestants after polling 39 votes to qualify as the party's candidate for that constituency.

In Mashonaland West, Mr Honest Manhando won the primaries pitting five contestants with 170 votes.

Other contestants in the same constituency such as Mr Paul Mapfumo and Mr Robert Tafa Gora got as little as two and five votes respectively.

In Zvishavane-Runde Clever Boko beat four other contestants with 166 votes to stand as the party's candidate in that constituency.

MDC-T's fortunes have been waning ahead of the crunch harmonised elections due by July 31.

Recent surveys by the MDC-T's traditional backers confounded the party as they pointed to a resounding victory for Zanu-PF.

Research groups such as Afro Barometer, Freedom House and Mass Public Opinion's surveys have predicted poor election results for MDC-T with the party's allies among them the NCA, ZCTU, Zimbabwe Vigil and Sokwanele all forecasting a Zanu-PF victory.

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