MDC-T president Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday unveiled Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn (MKD) leader Simba Makoni as the parliamentary candidate for Makoni Central ahead of his party’s Patrick Sagandira.
OBEY MANAYITI/VENERANDA LANGA
Addressing thousands of MDC-T supporters at Vengere Stadium in Rusape, Tsvangirai said he was not imposing the MKD leader, but was supporting him on the basis of the Coalition for Change agreement he signed with Makoni and Reketayi Semwayo of Zanu Ndonga to dislodge Zanu PF’s President Robert Mugabe in next week’s harmonised elections.
He asked his supporters to vote for Makoni for MP of the area and the response was resoundingly positive. The MDC-T leader said he was confident that the coalition would yield desired results.
“I was sent by the national standing committee of my party to negotiate with other political parties so that we don’t make the same mistake of splitting votes like what we did in 2008,” said Tsvangirai.
“As MDC, we can have the majority or even have 60% of the votes, but it’s not bad to have 70% through this coalition. We talked to the parties and we will share the posts after winning the elections.
There were four issues which are the presidential candidate, who should stand as our candidates, the composition of the executive and the programme of action.
“In Chipinge Central, because our members were fighting there, we put Semwayo and here in Makoni Central there is Simba Makoni.”
He said there was no need for Sagandira not to accept the position of the party as the party had briefed him about the position.
“I called the MDC-T district executive and told them about this so that we solidify our unity of purpose. As the leader of the party, I saw it prudent and this is of national interest,” added Tsvangirai.
“I called Sagandira and talked to him like we did in Chikanga-Dangamvura. It was, however, after the nomination court, but all the same if you are a party cadre you will be reassigned, but he thought I was playing with him.”
Tsvangirai said Makoni would remain MKD but would bank on the MDC-T’s support base.
Although Makoni rose to a rapturous welcome by thousands of MDC-T supporters, a handful of Sagandira’s supporters tried to protest before they were chucked out of the stadium.
In his address, Makoni pledged to deal with unemployment and the “retrogressive land reform programme” if the MDC-T wins elections. He said he left Zanu PF because there were “thieves, crooks, violent and corrupt elements within the revolutionary party which were bent on bringing down the country”.
Contacted for comment, Sagandira yesterday said he would not stand down for Makoni, adding decisions made at a rally were not binding as the MDC-T had structures to consult if crucial decisions were to be made.
“First and foremost, I was only informed of the coming of party president Tsvangirai to the rally in the constituency by party members who were passing messages to everyone and I decided to attend even if I was not formally invited as a candidate. I served the MDC-T since 1999 for 13 years now and I cannot defect and start to support an MKD candidate as it is against our party constitution. It will be foolish and uncalculated for me to step down for Makoni,” he said.
Sagandira said Tsvangirai was not the electorate and since he had filed his nomination papers with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission he was still going to contest.
“I am committed to the MDC-T and I will continue with my campaign tomorrow (today). Standing down for the MKD is a defection from the party. Tsvangirai at the rally said I did not withdraw and if he introduced Makoni, then it’s a political gimmick which does not come from deep down his heart. I am continuing with my campaign as people have vested their trust in me and tomorrow (today) I will be holding a rally at Termaroo in Ward 20,” he said.