MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai has opened his party’s candidate selection process ahead of next year’s polls, but strategically ring-fenced all his sitting legislators and councillors, NewsDay has learnt.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
In a notice to members, party secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora said applicants would have to pay a prescribed fee, which is yet to be announced, for them to be considered for selection.
“We kindly advise that shortly we are going to open up for all potential candidates for elections. We will shortly announce the application procedure and the requirements by the weekend. The reason is that the election directorate must first approve the application fees for each category.
“While you can prepare your applications, please do not submit them before you get the circular which has the requirements. Please note that any application which does not meet the requirements will not be processed. The applications are in respect of all party members who qualify. We will not be accepting any applications from places where there are sitting councilors and MPs yet,” he said.
Mwonzora could not be drawn into discussing the nature of the requirements potential candidates were expected to meet, but added: “We will have a women and youth quota as well as looking at the nature of talent at our disposal once the applications are in.”
Tsvangirai last month announced his party would not be holding primary elections that he described as divisive.
“Our biggest problem, as a party, is the division of supporters and this is caused by elective congresses and primary elections,” Tsvangirai said.
“Now I want to tell you, this time around, there will not be any primary elections. We will select our candidates through consensus.”
The MDC-T leader urged prospective candidates to find common ground and allow the best among them to represent the party, warning he would not tolerate intransigence.
“I am waiting to hear the names of the odd ones who will say they cannot find common ground [and] I will ask them if they are MDC or Zanu PF.
“As regards the Senate, this time I will choose representatives on my own,” he said.
“I will personally vet those whose names will be put forward because I know every MDC cadre and their contribution to the party from the formation of the party.”
Mwonzora confirmed the development, but argued there was no “ring-fencing of sitting lawmakers and councillors”.
“You will realise that we used the word ‘yet’ indicating that at some point these will also be opened to contestation. If we are to open up every constituency including those with our sitting MPs or councillors, these people will be disturbed. They are still working and we do not want to create chaos,” Mwonzora said.
Observers argued that Tsvangirai’s move could jeopardise negotiations with other parties as the coalition-building process hangs in the balance. The MDC-T was reportedly in talks with former Vice-President Joice Mujuru’s National People’s Party amid reports of disagreements over who should lead the structure to face President Robert Mugabe next year.
The MDC-T leader was recently endorsed as leader of the MDC Alliance to be launched on September 2 in Bulawayo comprising of seven parties, including his former lieutenants turned political foes Tendai Biti (leader of the People’s Democratic Party) and Welshman Ncube of the MDC.
Tsvangirai was said to be struggling to paper over cracks in the MDC-T emerging from his decision to rope in Biti and Ncube in particular, a move being resisted by deputy president Thokozani Khupe and other senior party figures from the western regions of the country among them national chairman Lovemore Moyo and national organising secretary Abednico Bhebhe.
Parties to the envisaged coalition were also heckling over allocation of parliamentary seats with Biti, who broke away from Tsvangirai in 2014, reportedly demanding over 20 seats he initially held before “his” MPs were recalled after which their seats were won by Zanu PF.