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MDC-T Activists: Victims of Injustice or Sour Grapes?

  • Thomas Chiripasi

MDC-T official Nelson Chamisa reacts to complaints of "irregularities" and violence during weekend primary elections.

MDC-T official Nelson Chamisa reacts to complaints of "irregularities" and violence during weekend primary elections.

Chegutu East-based activists of the MDC formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai today besieged the party’s headquarters complaining that elections to choose their parliamentary candidates over the weekend were marred by irregularities. Violence was also reported in the party’s primaries in Harare’s Epworth constituency.

More than 30 MDC-T activists from Chegutu East today stormed the party’s Harvest House headquarters to petition organizing secretary Nelson Chamisa over primary elections held Saturday. The activists charge the elections were marred by irregularities.

One complaint is that elections were held during the night when other aspiring candidates were not there, according to Chegutu East organising secretary Costa Harrison.

Mr. Harrison went so far as to accuse Tawanda Bvumo, the party’ s provincial treasurer for Mashonaland West, of collaborating with police to rig the election in favor of Mr. Bvumo.

“Our elections were not held following party procedure,” Harrison said. “Tawanda Bvumo is working in cahoots with the police dispol (district police). And they caused elections to be held at midnight at Dombwe Growth Point when other candidates were not present.”

Harrison urged his party’s organizing department to suspend Mr. Bvumo from the party and hold fresh primaries.

He also claimed that some ballot papers that were used in the primaries were confiscated by some of the party’s activists opposing Bvumo’s election.

“We now have a long time facing a problem with Bvumo and his allegiance with Zanu-PF,” Harrison alleged. “All we want now is for him to be removed from the race. He appears to be backed by people with Zanu-PF links and this may result in the party failing to wrestle the seat from Webster Shamu.”

Studio 7’s efforts to obtain a reaction from Tawanda Bvumo were not successful. However Mr. Bvumo posted on his Facebook profile that he was unanimously elected.

Two other MDC-T activists, Reign Mtatabikwa and Washington Chindiya, are also campaigning to represent their party in Chegutu East.

The confirmed candidate will battle it out with the winner of the Zanu-PF primaries to be held next Sunday. Sitting legislator, media and information minister Webster Shamu is being challenged in the Zanu-PF primaries by his party’s provincial chairperson, John Mafa.

Reports also say the MDC-T’s primaries in Harare’s Epworth constituency were marred by violence that left one person severely injured. Sources said the polls were abandoned after ballot papers were confiscated during counting by some unidentified people. Epworth’s current legislator, Eliah Jembere, is being challenged by five other MDC-T candidates.

Party national organizing secretary Nelson Chamisa, however, told Sudio 7 that primary elections were going on smoothly.

When asked about claims of violence and irregularities, Mr. Chamisa said his party will consider all complaints before taking decisions.

“Well, where there are concerns we always want to give you consideration and notice to concerns that are being raised,” Chamisa stated. “Every matter is going to be taken on its merits, on a case-by-case basis. We are going to give you regard, your recognition to our tenets of democracy, tenets of justice, and tenets of the right to be heard. The other side has to be heard. So wherever there is alleged issues of dissatisfaction, we always want to go to the root cause, the root of the matter, so that we do justice to our members. We can’t preach justice when we don’t practice it. We can’t talk about justice when we don’t want to dispense it to our own leadership, supporters, and membership.”

Although Chamisa insists there is no “crisis” in his party, several party members who lost in the primaries have petitioned the leadership seeking to overturn primary results.

Chamisa said his party is now preparing to hold primary elections to choose candidates at the local government level.