THE MDC-T has denied claims that it had barred party members from contesting parliamentary seats held by sitting MPs to ensure their political survival.
EVERSON MUSHAVA/MOSES MATENGA
MDC-T leader Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s acting spokesperson William Bango yesterday dismissed the claims as mischievous, saying the move was in line with the party’s constitution.
“Prime Minister Tsvangirai is simply a congressional officer,” Bango said.
“He is not the party and neither is he above the party.”
Last week, MDC-T spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora announced the party would conduct primary elections in vacant constituencies, adding that sitting MPs would need to be endorsed by party structures from their respective constituencies.
Mwonzora said primary elections would only be held in those constituencies where sitting MPs would have failed to be endorsed.
This sparked outrage with aspiring MPs accusing the party of trying to upstage them while protecting sitting legislators.
Tsvangirai came under a barrage of criticism from within and outside the party — mainly from his Zanu PF opponents — with others labelling him undemocratic.
“It is not a Tsvangirai issue. Anyone who is accusing the party of undemocratic principles is not a genuine party member. Real party members know what the party’s constitution says,” Bango said.
Bango said the vetting system for sitting MPs was taken from article 12 of the party’s constitution of 2006 which reads: “The immediate past candidate of the national position may be reselected by a two-thirds majority vote of those present and voting at a meeting of the district assembly.”
In article 15.11(a) of the 2011 constitution, the party’s national council is pampered with unfettered powers to decide the process to choose candidates.
“In any election, the national council, acting on the recommendations of the national directorate of elections, shall have the absolute discretion of determining the process of any selection or determination of any candidate,” the constitution read.
Bango said everyone could be challenged.
“It does not mean sitting MPs are not challenged. Aspiring MPs in constituencies with sitting MPs should now start lobbying to deny the sitting MP a two-thirds majority. That way, primary elections will be unavoidable,” he said.
According to Bango, confirmation would be made in all constituencies and primaries would be held in constituencies where sitting MPs and councillors could not be confirmed by a two-thirds majority from the branch, ward and constituency.
Addressing a feedback meeting in Kuwadzana East, MDC-T national organising secretary and local MP Nelson Chamisa yesterday echoed similar sentiments.
“We are clear in the MDC candidate selection. I am the organising secretary of the party. We will follow the democratic process. On primary elections, we will have elections across the whole country. We have been doing this, but now it has been broadened.
“We have broadened the process. It used to be two-thirds of the district and now anyone will participate because we will be broader as a party. No one will be protected by the leadership. We will do the candidate selection process properly because we don’t want an MP who forgets his constituency until election time,” Chamisa said.