Mkhululi Sibanda and Vincent Gono, Sunday News Reporters
THE MDC-T national organising department has called on its structures to start selecting candidates for the forthcoming harmonised elections without the involvement of its alliance partners.
According to a circular sent to MDC-T provincial chairpersons, the party’s national organising secretary, Mr Abednico Bhebhe said his department held a meeting on Tuesday last week where it was resolved that every province should come up with district programmes of action.
“Approaches to management of candidate selection with particular focus on orphaned constituencies and wards, in line with the National Council Resolution of 2015, all candidates interested in a particular constituency and ward, must sit down, discuss and agree on a single candidate in each and every one of those orphaned constituencies and wards,” wrote Mr Bhebhe.
“Consensus encourages mutuality, progress, team work, unity and is thus encouraged. Failure by interested candidates to reach consensus then the second option of reaching consensus is through primary elections.”
Mr Bhebhe said the national organising committee would be sending a national team to supervise the process.
“All provincial leaders are encouraged to submit dates and start organising for all the above mentioned activities before 10 February 2018 and the last date for these assemblies must be 28 February 2018,” he said.
Contacted for comment, Mr Bhebhe said to be fighting in the corner of the party’s vice-president, Dr Thokozani Khupe together with national chairman Mr Lovemore Moyo, secretary-general Mr Douglas Mwonzora and spokesperson Mr Obert Gutu in the MDC-T succession issue confirmed that he was indeed the author of the circular.
“We have to be ready for the elections as the Government can call for the polls anytime and we don’t want to be found wanting. Also I think you are aware that there is a dispute in the alliance with regards to the allocation of seats,” he said.
“What also should be noted is that those alliance partners are there to assist the cause of the MDC-T which has been in the fore-front of fighting Zanu-PF. So we should be seen taking a leading role. I want to put it on record that we have no problem with the alliance but we are not happy with the allocation of seats. It seems other partners are violating the agreement and I think it would be good if you have a look at it.”
According to the Composite Political Cooperation Agreement, the party which is the strongest electorally in a given constituency must field the candidate for the coalition, which is not the case on the ground where some principals have imposed their officials on seats already occupied by MDC-T legislators.
Alliance spokesperson who is MDC President, Professor Welshman Ncube, conceded that the alliance was faced with problems and called for their colleagues in the MDC-T to unite for the collective good of the alliance.
He said there were teething problems as some elements within the MDC-T were not willing to look at the broader picture with personal interests taking precedence over collective national interests especially with regards to the issue of constituencies.
He, however, noted that nothing was cast in stone and parties were free to swap seats on a bilateral arrangement but no party should field a candidate in a constituency reserved for another party saying the case of Mr Obert Gutu who was refusing with a seat given to Mr Tendai Biti shows the gravity of the problem they were faced with.
Prof Ncube said the alliance was still rallying people around the agreed leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai despite his failing health that had seen succession issues playing strong in the MDC-T. He said it was agreed by the alliance that in the event Mr Tsvangirai fails to be available to take up his position as leader, the MDC-T was supposed to give another leader to the alliance.
“I have no mandate to speak on issues concerning the MDC-T. But I can tell you that as an alliance we agreed that Mr Tsvangirai will lead us. We are therefore rallying people around him and in the event that he fails to make himself available either by resignation, illness or any other reason by the time of going to an election, the MDC-T is supposed to provide another leader.
“We settled for Mr Tsvangirai as leader because we were satisfied with the level of party support he enjoys, the resilience he has shown over the years and that he has become a household name recognisable locally, regionally and internationally. Regrettably he has not been well but we are convinced that his name and his presence will do the trick. He is a leader who needs no introduction at any level,” said Prof Ncube.
He said before he was taken ill, Mr Tsvangirai had given the nod for the alliance to start reaching out to the people and they have been doing that. Prof Ncube said Mr Tsvangirai made it categorically clear that Messrs Chamisa was the one to stand in for him in matters to do with the alliance.
He, however, said some within the MDC-T were not very keen on the alliance and have been scuttling efforts of seeing it to fruition.
Asked about reports that he was seen as Dr Khupe’s replacement in the tribal balance within the alliance, Prof Ncube said he was past that era of regional politics, adding that the alliance wanted everyone.
“We need everyone. We need Khupe, we need former Speaker of Parliament Lovemore Moyo and Bhebhe. It shouldn’t be like that where people are divided. We need teamwork which is the reason of having an alliance,” he said.