MDC rocked by chaos as primary polls spark violence

Political Violence in Zimbabwe

The party was this weekend balloting to choose candidates for harmonised elections which are expected in July.

In Harare’s Budiriro suburb, youths from Ward 43 blocked people from voting and closed the entry gate to the community hall resulting in the elections being postponed.

The youths were against the selection of one Machingauta whom they claimed had been imposed by officials.

In other areas such as Mbare, Mabvuku and Glen Norah, the primaries had to be abandoned.

Candidates later gathered at Morgan Tsvangirai House in central Harare where party chairman Morgen Komichi battled to resolve some of the concerns.

Sitting MP Tapiwa Mashakada’s vehicle was stoned by angry supporters in Waterfalls after one of his bodyguards allegedly pushed and slapped a party member.

MDC-T national chairman Morgen Komichi

In Epworth, unconfirmed reports claimed that violence broke out after one of a candidate’s names was not found on the ballot papers.

Speaking late Sunday, Komichi admitted that there were “logistical” problems in certain areas.

“So far primaries are going on very well,” he said.

“Primaries started in Matabeleland South, later in Bulawayo and Matabeleland North. Of course, where there is competition, challenges are bound to be found here and there, but these are manageable.”

He added, “Midlands North and South, Gokwe Central are now finished.

“In Mashonaland West, East, Manicaland, elections have gone very well.  In Harare we started late due to logistical problems but, as we speak, in some wards elections are going on now.

“Harare North ward 18, Kambuzuma Ward 36, Harare Central Ward 6, Mt Pleasant Ward 7 and national assembly results have so far been received.

“We are yet to receive results from other wards and constituencies. Since it is now late, we will continue and reschedule.”

Business at the MDC-T provincial offices in Chinhoyi was briefly grounded last week, after more than 50 disgruntled members blocked the main gate in protest over alleged imposition of candidates to contest this year’s primary elections.

The party members were demanding to meet MDC-T provincial chairperson, Ralph Magunje.

“We are sick and tired of provincial leaders who corruptly bring their Johnny-come-lately cronies to represent the party ahead of genuine members because they don’t have money to grease their palms,” an MDC-T activist, who declined to be named for fear of victimisation, said.

Magunje initially accused the protesting members of failing to understand the party policies and candidates’ selection criteria, but later disowned the group as non-MDC-T members.

“There was a misunderstanding among the members about the party position on elections. Some individuals pretended not to understand the youth, women, disabled and war veterans quota system and cause mayhem at the party office. We are going to deal with the culprits who want to tarnish the image of the party,” he said.

But the protestors vowed to continue with the demonstrations until the matter has been resolved by the party’s national executive, claiming the provincial executives was corrupt.

The party experienced similar protests at its headquarters in Harare two weeks ago, although MDC-T leader, Nelson Chamisa’s spokesperson, Luke Tamborinyoka, chose to downplay the incident.

On Saturday, MDC-T primary elections in Marondera Central were rocked by violence after one of the candidates was reportedly found in possession of more than 20 ballot papers among other irregularities, resulting in the process being postponed to yesterday.

Tempers reportedly flared in ward 4 after one of the contestants was found in possession of ballot papers.

MDC-T Mashonaland East provincial vice organising secretary, Bornface Tagwirei confirmed the incident.

“It is true. The voting process was postponed to Sunday (yesterday) after he was caught writing about 28 ballot papers. We are going to sit down and deliberate on the issue and see what measures are to be taken to deal with such behaviour,” he said.

By yesterday, United Kingdom returnee Caston Matewo was likely to clinch the victory as he was leading in seven of the 12 wards.

Matewo was contesting alongside South Africa-based engineer, Joseph Mphokosera, Marondera district organising secretary, Witness Muzawazi and Masimba Ruzvidzo. Matewo is seeking to replace Ian Kay, who resigned from politics.

He will face Zanu PF ‘s Cleopas Kundiona come July elections.

In ward 1, Marondera district chairperson, Chengetai Murova emerged the winner while incumbent councilors Tagwirei and Dominic Matangira were also victorius.

The MDC has since held primary elections in two of its Matabeleland provinces — Bulawayo and Matabeleland South — which were incident -free after the majority of the candidates were confirmed by consensus.

The party had planned that elections would be held yesterday in Harare, Masvingo, Chitungwiza and Mashonaland East provinces before concluding with Manicaland and Mashonaland Central and West today.

But MDC secretary for elections Murisi Zwizwai yesterday told the Daily News that only elections for council candidates were proceeding after the party resolved to wait until Wednesday until members of the MDC national executive, who are working with the electoral commission in various provinces, to return.

“We will continue with MPs primaries on Wednesday because the majority of national executive members are also candidates and others are even sitting MPs so we thought it was wise to allow them to come back first so that they also get time to campaign before elections are held in their constituencies,” Zwizwai said.

When the Daily News visited some constituencies in Chitungwiza and Harare, only the selection of council candidates was underway.

In Chitungwiza for example, MDC national organising secretary Rangarirai Mutingwende said elections had been suspended because; “In Zengeza East, the sitting MP Alexei Musundire is not available and so is Simon Chidhakwa for Zengeza West”.

“We were told that elections can go ahead in orphaned constituencies where we do not have an incumbent for example in Chitungwiza South. Only ward elections are ongoing,” Mutingwende who is   also eyeing Zengeza West constituency, said.

On Saturday, the party held internal elections in Bulawayo province, where four constituencies out of a possible 12 were hived-off to the other alliance partners, leaving it with eight.

The MDC is trying to avoid the chaos that characterised the just-ended Zanu PF primary elections, which were marred by electoral irregularities.

In Bulawayo Central, for example, Nicky Brown was confirmed by consensus to represent the MDC.

The sitting Member of Parliament for the area, Dorcas Sibanda, is going through as the party’s proportional representative MP.

In Njube, Gift Banda won the consensus vote, and so did James Sithole (Makokoba), Jack Banda (Luveve) and Kunashe Muchemwa (Bulawayo South).

Thabitha Khumalo, the sitting MP for Bulawayo East and acting MDC spokesperson, did not seek re-election after going through as a proportional representative MP.

Elections were, however, held for Magwegwe, Entumbane and Mpopoma, but the result were not available at the time of going to print.

Voting in these elections started around midday, without incident.

In Matabeleland South province, the elections were held on Friday.

Out of a total of 13 constituencies in Matabeleland South, six were to MDC Alliance partners, leaving Chamisa’s MDC-T with seven.

Primary elections were held in only two constituencies, Umzingwane and Insiza North, which were won by Khumbulani Moyo and David Masuku, respectively.

In the other five constituencies, the candidates were selected through consensus.

The party will be represented in Bulilima East, Mangwe, Matobo South, Matobo North and Gwanda South by Solani Moyo, Vincent Sihlabo, Zanele Dube, Amos Ndlovu and Akim Moyo, respectively.