WASHINGTON DC —
Former senator and deputy justice minister Obert Gutu has been appointed Harare mayor-elect by the MDC T’s standing committee amid murmurs of disapproval from other party cadres who accused former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and senior leaders in the party of imposing candidates without giving councillors a chance to make their own choice.
Isaac Manyemba was picked to lead Chitungwiza while in Mutare Brian James was given another opportunity to run the eastern border City. James was suspended during his last term as mayor by local government minister Ignatius Chombo but the courts cleared him to contest in the 2013 elections.
In Gweru Charles Chikozho was named the mayor-elect while in Masvingo David Charirwe takes over from Femius Chakabuda.
Sources in the party said some cities were resisting the candidates selected by Mr. Tsvangirai and his team. The MDC T party won overwhelmingly in 15 councils.
The mayors will be confirmed in elections called by their respective town clerks.
The weekly Standard newspaper reported Sunday that the MDC T has been rocked by fresh divisions over the imposition of mayors and chairpersons of local council committees allegedly by Mr. Tsvangirai.
Sources told VOA the party's standing committee had given Mr. Tsvangirai permission to appoint the office holders as big wigs within the movement who lost in the July election rushed to grab the remaining political offices in local authorities won by the MDC.
MDC-T youths have since written a petition to Mr. Tsvangirai questioning the party’s internal democratic systems and processes, including the imposition of mayoral candidates.
Senior officials said there was tension in the party ahead of a retreat by the party's top leadership Tuesday and Wednesday in the capital after Mr. Tsvangirai began to directly appoint mayors, their deputies and chairpersons of committees in various cities and towns won by the MDC T.
MDC T secretary for local government Blessing Chebundo told VOA the party’s leadership interviewed the aspiring candidates before nominating them.