MDC-T Young Turks are turning the heat on the party’s old guard with seven youth leaders so far having openly declared an interest to contest parliamentary seats held by ministers and top party officials.
Report by Nqobani Ndlovu
The list of top-ranking MDC-T Cabinet ministers likely to face a bruising fight from party youths includes Finance minister Tendai Biti, Tapiwa Mashakada (Economic Planning), Theresa Makone (Home Affairs), Gabbuza Joel Gabbuza (Public Works) and Heneri Dzinotyiwei (Science and Technology), among others .
Over the weekend, seven MDC-T national youth executive members declared their ambitions to contest seats held by sitting party MPs. Observers said the youths could have been motivated by a desire to block the imposition of candidates.
The youths are also reportedly unhappy about alleged manoeuvres of top party officials to avoid primary elections.
According to the MDC-T, a sitting legislator requires a two-thirds confirmation from party members in his constituency to avoid a primary election.
MDC-T organising secretary Nelson Chamisa yesterday said the party was a “sophisticated democracy” which used double scrutiny to vet representatives in general elections.
“We have not yet declared that people should campaign,” he said.
“Youths are entitled to participate in this democratic process when the party’s national council opens the floor.
“A statement of intent is not a statementof action. Everybody can express his desire.I want to debunk this notion that the party is trying to protect some people. We don’t have endangered species. The issue of confirmation is not a latter-day phenomenon. It has been there and has claimed casualties in the past. If one needs to stand, the fight is to ensure that the sitting MP is not confirmed. Confirmation is not done here at Harvest House (MDC-T headquarters), but in constituencies.”
Addressing party youths in Beitbridge on Saturday,MDC-T national youth spokesperson Clifford Hlatshwayo said the youths were confident of wresting the seats from the party’s old guard.
“We are confident of winning the seats from the sitting MPs,” he said.
Hlatshwayo said youth assembly chairman Solomon Madzore was eyeing Evelyn Masaiti’s Dzivarasekwa constituency with his deputy Costa Machingauta challenging Dzinotyiwei in Budiriro.
Hlatshwayo himself said he was eyeing the Chipinge South seat presently under Meki Makuyana, while youth assembly secretary-general Promise Mkhwananzi was set to lock horns with Felix Magalela Sibanda in Magwegwe.
MDC-T youth treasurer Mukombwe Dube has reportedly set his sights on the Binga South seat currently held by Gabbuza, while youth organising secretary Mpumelelo Ndlovu and his deputy Happymore Chidziva are eyeing Insiza South and Redcliff seats, under MDC and Zanu PF MPs respectively.
Artwell Sibanda, personal assistant to MDC-T national chairman Lovemore Moyo, is reportedly eyeing Albert Mhlanga’s Pumula seat.
NewsDay is reliably informed that Harare deputy mayor Emmanuel Chiroto was eyeing Makone’s Harare North constituency before his dismissal from the party.
Some fired and suspended councillors were also challenging party heavyweights including Biti and Mashakada.
Machingauta urged youths to contest for parliamentary and council seats in the forthcoming harmonised elections.
“We need youths in councils and in Parliament. You need to come forward and contest for those seats. We can leave Senate because age is disadvantaging us,” he said.
A number of Zanu PF bigwigs are also facing potentially stiff challenges from Young Turks in their own party.
The Zanu PF politburo has been struggling to come up with regulations for primary elections amid concerns it wants to protect ministers and MPs facing a strong challenge from newcomers.