THE Thokozani Khupe-led MDC-T is heading for an implosion after its national standing committee (NSC) resolved to suspend provincial nominations for presidential candidates, and “railroaded” the national council (NC) to choose only two candidates to contest at the party’s extraordinary congress next month.
BY RICHARD MPONDE
The decision to nominate presidential candidates virtually was reportedly made at the party’s NSC strategic workshop in Nyanga on Wednesday.
According to party insiders, nine out of the NSC members who attended the retreat endorsed change of the usual process of provincial nominations in selecting presidential candidates to nominations by the NC, which is set to sit on Saturday to streamline candidates to only two.
Only Giles Mutsekwa, who is in charge of security, and Elias Mudzuri, a presidential aspirant, are reported to have shot down the proposal introduced by Khupe and interim secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora who are set to emerge as the sole candidates.
The NC will sit virtually and it is not clear how the security of the ballot will be ensured in a process that, according to the party constitution should be done by secret ballot.
It is not also clear how the online voting will be conducted before the setting up of an electoral college, raising fears the process could be manipulated.
The MDC-T is supposed to go for an extraordinary congress next month, according to a court order to select a successor to the late founding leader, Morgan Tsvangirai.
The Khupe-led party had started conducting provincial nominations which saw five candidates putting their hats into the ring.
These include Khupe, Mwonzora, acting chairperson Morgen Komichi, Mudzuri and “suspended” acting organising secretary Abednico Bhebhe.
The party’s constitution stipulates that only congress elects the president, but nominations are by provincial councils while voting is done by secret ballot.
Mudzuri, who was part of the workshop in Nyanga, said the move was ultra vires the party’s norms and tradition.
“Practice has been that provincial councils have had the task of nominating candidates,” Mudzuri said yesterday.
“This tradition is what must always obtain unless modified or replaced by congress. Flip-flopping and changing rules by interested candidates must never be allowed to prevail in a democracy. A free, transparent electoral process must be conducted by an independent electoral body and no other candidates.”
Contacted for comment yesterday, Mwonzora disputed the allegations, saying the NC was meeting to review nominations and approve the new timetables.
“It’s not true that such a resolution was made,” Mwonzora said.
“The NC is meeting to review the nominations and approve the new timetables. It is the administrative duty of the NC to approve certain things which come up. We are going to hold our elective congress between December 12 and 13 and these are the things which the NC is going to look into,” he added.
A party insider privy to the resolutions made in Nyanga yesterday said the NC was forging ahead to meet on Saturday and choose the two presidential candidates despite protests from the majority of the party structures.
The insider accused Mwonzora and Khupe of using the NC and NSC organs to endorse their decisions.
The insider also accused the two of over-reliance on virtual meetings attended by their allies, not bona fide members.
They queried why the party has not held any gathering to take stock of its members, yet the congress will be physical.
“I have perused our constitution and it’s clear that the NC has no mandate to do this. It’s clear that the intent by the NSC is not only to railroad the NC to do illegal things, but even hide behind the name of the NC and say that it’s that structure that would have made such a decision,” the insider
“Why are we always holding virtual meeting and we don’t even know which NC is going to sit, is it the 2014 structures or Khupe’s MDC-T? We no longer want these virtual meetings. We want a physical meeting so that we know if the members are bona fide.”
Insiders accused Khupe and Mwonzora of violating the party constitution, yet they claim to be constitutionalists.