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MDC-T at war over candidates

A storm is brewing within the MDC-T, ahead of primary elections after the party threatened to disqualify hundreds of aspiring parliamentarians who are campaigning against sitting MPs.

Report by Nqobani Ndlovu

The Standard has established that under new guidelines, aspiring MPs will be allowed to openly campaign for primary elections, only in the event that the incumbents fail to garner enough votes in their constituencies during the confirmation exercise.

MDC-T national chairman, Lovemore Moyo last week confirmed to The Standard that aspiring MPs openly campaigning for office against sitting legislators risk disqualification if they violated the directive.

“We are saying because there is an MDC-T MP who is still serving his or her term, it will be wrong for any candidate to been seen campaigning against a member of the party,” he said.

“How can you campaign against your own party person? Aspiring candidates should only campaign against the opposition parties.”

Moyo claimed that allowing aspiring MPs to campaign would “destabilise” the party.

“It will destabilise the constituency. We do not want any disruptions. A sitting MP should continue his or her work without any disruptions from aspiring candidates. Aspiring candidates will only be allowed to campaign after the confirmation exercise,” he said.

But several aspiring MPs were fuming over the directive which they dismissed as an attempt to shield non-performing and unpopular legislators.

They said the directive was undemocratic and gave sitting MPs an unfair advantage over others.

“This is just an attempt to protect sitting MPs at all costs.  How would the party structures make an informed decision during the confirmation exercise, when they do not know what we have to offer as an alternative to the sitting MP?”, an aspiring MP in Bulawayo, who requested anonymity said.

A sitting MP requires a two thirds majority from the party structures in his or her constituency to avoid primary elections, according to the party’s election guidelines.

Another aspiring MP argued: “This directive gives the sitting MP an unfair advantage over us. What would stop a sitting MP from de-campaigning us by saying that we have pulled out of the race.

“This directive cripples us in a big way. In fact by this directive the party leadership is saying party structures should not consider us but only consider the sitting MPs.”

Following the latest election guidelines, sitting MPs throughout the country have been busy holding weekend rallies urging supporters to vote them back into office.

In Bulawayo, just last week Saturday, Pumula legislator, Albert Mhlanga, at a rally held at Pumula, promised to slaughter a cow for each and every ward if they ensured that he avoids primary elections. Mhlanga is being challenged by Artwell Sibanda, a personal assistant to Moyo.

In Luveve, sitting MP Reggie Moyo has been busy donating maize meal, promising supporters more goodies if he wins the primaries. Moyo is being challenged by businessman, Kidwell Mujuru who last week won an appeal against disqualification.

The MDC-T was recently forced to postpone the holding of its primary elections following the infighting and chaos over the party’s primary election guidelines.

The primary elections are reportedly now set for May.

Disgruntled members have been pushing the party leadership to revisit the primary election guidelines that had resulted in a number of applications from aspiring candidates being thrown out for various reasons.

Aspiring candidates argued that the guidelines were designed to bar them from contesting the sitting MPs.  Only last week, about 30 disgruntled aspiring members managed to win appeals against disqualification that were based on the election guidelines.-

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