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Primary Election Friction Worsens in Zanu-PF, MDC-T

Zanu-PF held national election meetings Sunday to cool down tempers in its ranks over election candidates as the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai postponed primary polls in some provinces.

According to some Zanu-PF activists, the party provincial election directorate meetings were designed to review concerns raised by candidates disqualified in the primaries last week. The election directorates are expected to come up with better ways of fielding candidates in its primaries which were postponed from Monday to Wednesday.

Some Zanu-PF supporters stormed the party’s headquarters Friday expressing anger over the exclusion of some candidates. The disgruntled supporters were from Bikita West, Zvimba North, Mhangura, Goromonzi West and Mutoko South.

Zanu-PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo said he will provide some details of the meetings Monday.

In the MDC-T, the party postponed some elections once again in some provinces following complaints by supporters over the selection process which they claimed favoured certain candidates.

The party’s organizing secretary Nelson Chamisa said the postponement of the polls was part of the democratic process in the party.

“Postponement Does not mean failure, postponement is just an acknowledgement of further work to be done to correct and remedy the issues that are being raised or the mischief that is being alleged or located. As far as we are concerned, we have had nearly 100 percent success rate. If you actually think that we had challenges just wait and watch our colleagues in Zanu-PF whom we really sympathize with,” said Mr. Chamisa.

Housing Minister Giles Mutsekwa is among some ministers who almost fell by the wayside Sunday as he was not confirmed by the electorate in Dangamvura-Chinganga constituency. He is expected to feature in the next round of primary elections. Some MDC-T ministers have almost been swept out of power.

In Bulawayo, organizing secretary Albert Mhlanga, said the MDC-T will hold postponed primaries Monday in order to ensure that the party is ready for the Nomination Court on Friday.

At the same time, Makoni South lawmaker Pishai Muchauraya, who was recently detained for allegedly threatening to kill an election agent of one of the candidates, was back in prison Sunday but this time carrying a lot of food for prisoners.

In a related development, Zimbabwe’s Constitutional Court is this week expected to hear at least six cases including an application filed by the unity government seeking a variation of the country’s election date.

The application which was filed last week by Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, is being disputed by the other parties in the unity government which are claiming that they were not consulted before the matter was taken to court.

Southern African Development Community leaders meeting in Maputo, Mozambique, last Saturday urged the parties to seek another date for general elections after President Robert Mugabe unilaterally proclaimed July 31 as the date for the polls.

Other matters to be heard in the Constitutional Court include an application by a Zimbabwean based in South Africa seeking an order to compel the unity government to allow foreign-based citizens to vote in the next elections. The same court will also hear a case in which a Bulawayo woman is seeking an extension of the election date from July 31.