MDC-UK, USA & SA fighting disenfranchisement

PRESS RELEASE – MDC diaspora structures are now engaged in a battle for their survival, with fears for their relegation to some lower status spreading throughout the diaspora. This follows an MDC national executive directive that the diaspora structures would not be allowed to nominate candidates.

We believe this decision is arbitrary, political and unconstitutional.   \r\n

Last year treasurer-general, Roy Bennett was quoted in UK newspapers saying external structures were going to be disbanded, and recently National Women’s Affairs Chairperson Theresa Makoni told the MDC UK congress that if members continued bickering and being bad losers in elections, the party would strip them of their status and make them associate members.

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She also threatened the South African MDC structure with the same fate, of being relegated to associate membership for questioning how elections were conducted, according to MDC SA. There was no explanation about what this associate status means, and no such threats were made to Masvingo or Bulawayo and other provinces where candidates have reportedly gone as far as stabbing each others’ supporters.

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Three external assembly structures, the UK, the US and South Africa, were recognised after we recruited the required numbers and set up the required structures. Since then the external structures have been working flat-out to support the party.

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The National Chairman, Lovemore Moyo , Mrs Makone, and the National Youth Chair Thamsanqa Mahlangu, were, only a few weeks ago, in SA, UK and USA conducting the external assemblies elections at their external assemblies congresses.

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Posts were fought for fiercely; just like at home, with the elected executives all looking forward to playing their part, and contributing as much as we can to the party, just like their colleagues at home. Our members have also made their nominations for national leadership we are forwarding though we do not have nomination forms.

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But we have been told informally that the MDC National Executive or the Standing Committee had met and agreed to disenfranchise the three External Assemblies.

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The reasons given were that it was not traditional to do so, yet this upcoming congress is the first congress at which the external assemblies are represented, since the constitutional change was only made at the 2006 congress, so there could not have been any tradition before now, except what is in the constitution.

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Article 5.8.10 of the MDC Constitution clearly provides for the establishment external structures and 5.8.12 specifically says: “Subject to this constitution the External Assembly shall have the same powers and status as a Province.

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The powers and responsibilities of the External Assembly are further elucidated in 5.8 13 and 5.8.15. Nowhere in that Constitution does it refer to any organ of our party as having the prerogative of stripping External Assemblies nor any other organ of their roles and status. So for any organ of the party to meet and purport to ex-communicated the three External Assemblies would be unconstitutional manipulation of the election.

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The MDC UK Provincial Council had earlier raised concerns regarding the presence of Roy Bennett in the United Kingdom on an unspecified assignment. According to the Constitution Article 5 section 5.8.18(f), External Assemblies are supposed to receive all party delegates to their host country, but this has not been the case.

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We believed it could be an innocent omission or oversight, so we called Bennett and he told us that he was sent by Harare to UK and was awaiting further instructions from Harare. We are also watching with this with interest and it only contributes to suspicions that maybe a new structure is being imposed unconstitutionally.

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Our delegation is preparing to go and present the external assemblies case to the National Council jointly with the US and SA delegations. The UK delegation is made up of the top three Provincial executives, the Women’s Chair and the Youth Chair. The US has sent 20 delegates, though only five will be voting delegates. All will be engaged in lobbying for the status of the external assembly to be maintained and for our nominations to be recognised.

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It is a simple matter of following the constitution. We cannot just be removed from the structure because is suites someone or some people. Would they just tell Masvingo Province that it is no longer recognised as a Province?

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Constitutionally, I, my secretary, and my organising secretary are members of the National Council, as are the top four of the US and SA assemblies, so we are taking our case, and our nominations, to the National Council which is meeting before congress.

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We are loyal members of the party and we have been following procedures all this time, even when it seemed there were forces within the party who were working for our demise.

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We have been properly elected and the National Chairman was here to oversee the election himself, so I think we have a good case to go and present to the National Council on behalf of our members.

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The external assembly executive is part of the National Council and is required to report to the National Council quarterly according to the constitution as amended in 2006, so this would be the first quarter report of the external assemblies.

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We would have preferred to be in Bulawayo pushing all the issues of our members, like dual citizenship, voting rights, issues of employment and entrepreneurship for diaspora members, and the like.

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But it looks like we are going to be spending the time fighting for our very survival as a structure, which is a shame.

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Tonderai Samanyanga – MDC UK and Ireland Chairman on behalf of MDC UK, USA and SA

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+44(0)1332704633/+44(0)7861799751

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