THE selection of candidates for the Movement for Democratic Change Alliance was supposed to be smoother than the chaotic Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front primary elections which saw some candidates threatening decampaign party leader Emmerson Mnangagwa because, they claimed, the elections had been rigged.
But 12 May has come and gone and only Welshman Ncube’s MDC has released its list of 31 Parliamentary candidates.
Morgen Komichi, acting chairman of the MDC-T faction led by Nelson Chamisa, promised that the candidate selection within his party would be completed by 12 May but according to Newsday chaos and violence rocked the party’s consensus-building meetings to select candidates with reports saying top party officials attempted to impose their preferred candidates.
A sitting legislator Jessie Majome has pulled out because it is not clear who will be voting in the primary elections. She even claimed that people were being bussed into her constituency, Harare West, for the candidate selection.
Nothing has been heard yet from the other Alliance partners: Tendai Biti’s People’s Democratic Party, Jacob Ngarivhume’s Transform Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe People First, Multi-Racial Christian Democrats, and ZANU-Ndonga.
Although Chamisa has represented the face of the Alliance, he seems to have totally ignored the dilemma that the Alliance is facing, especially his own MDC-T, that of the distribution of seats in the Alliance.
This has never been clearly spelt out, though according to the Independent, Chamisa’s party, the core of the Alliance, will only contest 114 of the 210 seats.
This was the major bone of contention between late president of the MDC-T Morgan Tsvangirai and his deputy Thokozani Khupe.
She did not agree on the seat distribution because she felt that the MDC-T could go it alone because in 2008 it beat ZANU-PF winning 100 seats against ZANU-PF’s 99.
According to the Independent, Welshman Ncube’s MDC was to contest 32 seats. It has fielded 31 candidates.
Biti’s faction was allocated 14 seats, while Agrippa Mutambara’s ZimPF was offered 30 seats, and Ngarivhume, 19 with the MCD getting 1.
There was nothing for ZANU-Ndonga according to the Independent list.
Most of the MDC-T supporters were against the Alliance because the other parties were only bringing leaders and no supporters.
MDC-T youth leader for Masvingo made this point to Chamisa when he addressed a rally in Bikita, but he was told to shut up.
“The Alliance document has a clause to the effect that the party most popular in a specific constituency will provide candidates. I made a declaration in front of the late Tsvangirai that some of the constituencies which we are emotionally connected to will not be challenged by our Alliance partners,” Gumbi told Chamisa.
“My request Mr president is that you negotiate with your Alliance partners to give us space so that we arrange our programmes and they do theirs. On the issue of sharing constituencies, our Alliance partners must realise that there are emotional interests on some seats like Bikita because some people were killed and tortured here. So I will only allow someone to contest in those constituencies that our people suffered over my dead body.”
Chamisa was blunt. “When we give you direction you follow, you don’t come and question why it has been done the way it is. We however, will consider the strongest candidate in each constituency.”
This was in essence double-talk because Alliance partners have already been allocated constituencies to contest.
Although Chamisa is campaigning across the country, he seems to be focusing only on his post that of the presidency. He has been totally silent about the legislators yet this could be the Alliance’s undoing.
To make matters worse, there are already tell-tale signs of uneasy among the MDC-T supporters as they feel that the party is imposing candidates on the people.
The same thing happened in 2013 and that backfired terribly.
First, primary elections were postponed. When they were held people protested against the imposition of candidates resulting in 28 standing as independent candidates.
Jessie Majome has already sounded the alarm bell.