Leonard Ncube in Hwange
MDC-T led by Mr Nelson Chamisa yesterday failed to conduct primary elections in Hwange for the second time in as many weeks as internal violence continues to dog the opposition party.
The party’s provincial leadership held a marathon meeting to deal with allegations of vote buying and alleged sabotage by sitting candidates.
Disgruntled members waited outside the party’s district offices in Baghdad, Empumalanga suburb while the Matabeleland North provincial leadership held a meeting that lasted more than five hours to find a way forward.
Last week violence erupted in Ward 8 and 9 resulting in the party abandoning the poll as sitting candidates comprising Hwange Central MP Mr Brian Tshuma, Ward 8 Councillor Rhoda Sibanda, Ward 9 Cllr Chiratidzo Maphosa-Mudimba, her husband Mr Jabulani Mudimba and the party’s district elections officer Mr James Sibanda allegedly visited their rivals houses at night threatening them to withdraw or face unspecified action.
The party is yet to decide on the fate of the two wards while today the primaries are expected to go ahead for Hwange Central Constituency where there are three contestants.
These are the incumbent Mr Tshuma who has been accused by members of sponsoring violence targeting his challenger Mr Fortune Mguni and his supporters, as well as Zimbabwe Power Company plant operator Mr Peter Mhaka.
Mr Tshuma distanced himself from the violence saying his name was just being dragged in to tarnish his image ahead of polls.
Scores of party supporters accused their leaders of attempting to deliberately avoid primary elections to protect sitting candidates who have fallen out of favour with members.
“We came here wanting to vote and we are getting impatient. The nomination court will be sitting soon yet they keep postponing elections because they want to impose their candidates. We will not allow that. We want to vote and remove Brian, Chiratidzo and Rhoda because they have failed us.
“Right now they are moving around with drunk youths insulting everyone in town at night threatening people to vote for them. Chiratidzo’s husband left his job at Mota-Engil at night as they moved around threatening and insulting people in their houses. We can’t allow that and now they are the ones trying to block elections so that they sabotage our president,” said an angry member.
Another member alleged that there was rampant vote buying.
“Brian hired three trucks to carry his supporters to the polling station. Their strategy is to confuse everyone so that people end up not voting. We have been asking for off days from work to come to vote and they keep postponing and we know the people who are playing these games,” said the angry supporter.
Emerging out of the meeting, Mr Mguni said he was also going to employ some strategies to counter his rival’s tactics. The meeting which was chaired by vice chairman for the province a Mr Munenge resolved that no polls will be held for the local authorities’ elections in Ward 8 and 9 as they are waiting for determination by the party’s national office.
Only the National Assembly poll will go ahead today.
People will vote using National Identity cards and BVR registration slips.
MDC-T national women’s assembly information and publicity Secretary Ms Phyllis Ndlovu said it was not true that the party was facing challenges in the constituency.
While party members were told to prepare for voting today, Ms Ndlovu said they will only get direction from the national leadership.
“There is no tension in the party. This is an in-house issue and there is no sabotage as people are being made to believe. We are not sure when we will have the elections as we are waiting for documents from Harare,” she said. — @ncubeleon