Jockeying, imposition hit MDC

HARARE - The race for Parliament and council seats ahead of the forthcoming general elections has ripped Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC apart, with factions fighting for supremacy.

Factionalism in the party has resurfaced as jockeying intensifies with different camps, fighting for supremacy
There is a camp which is fielding young cadres and academics, which enjoys the support of younger leaders like Tendai Biti while Tsvangirai is using his former trade union colleagues to continue with his hold on the party, sources close to the ground say.

Women and youth assembly members are being roped in the factionalism.

According to sources, the factions, have been fighting for turf for long, as evidenced by the splits and violent clashes that characterised provinces such as Bulawayo, Masvingo, Manicaland and Mashonaland East.

The party is yet to firmly deal with the issue of internal violence driven by factionalism despite public promises to do so.

Sources said the infighting had intensified across provinces in recent weeks due to the race to get the party ticket for next year’s elections.

A new front in the war has been opened as well.

A directive from the MDC’s national executive that incumbent councillors and MPs will not be contested in primary elections to choose party candidates ahead of the watershed polls that could be held in June 2013 has raffled feathers in the young party.

Aspiring candidates are uncomfortable with the directive barring them from contesting sitting MPs and councillors as they feel it protects failed and corrupt office bearers.

They feel Tsvangirai’s band of top leaders is abusing high office to protect themselves from internal democracy.

MDC deputy spokesperson Joel Gabbuza confirmed that sitting MPs will walk to the general elections unopposed.

“In the constituencies where we have incumbent MPs and councillors, we will delay the process of primary elections because we already have persons elected by the electorate,” said Gabbuza.

“We do not want to disrupt the work they have done.So we are going to be starting in the constituencies where we do not have representatives. In those constituencies people can start running around canvassing for support,” said Gabuzza.

The MDC decision not to hold primary elections has left the party that was formed in 1999 deeply divided with some people who have been in the trenches for the past 13 years feeling that this is a form of candidate imposition — a phenomenon copied from Zanu PF.

Zanu PF, however, appears to be changing tact and has announced that apart from President Robert Mugabe, every other official will have to fight it out.

The move by the MDC not to hold primary elections in more than 90 constituencies has been picked by the party rivals as undemocratic but Gabbuza said the party will not deviate from its “democratic” practices.

“We are not going to impose candidates on our supporters. What is happening at the moment is that our election directorate is working on the procedure to elect candidates. They are fine-tuning the resolution of our congress on elections,” said Gabbuza.

Aspiring candidates say the majority of sitting MDC MPs and councillors have failed to deliver and have joined the gravy train and therefore should make way for fresh blood.

Even though Tsvangirai’s party has taken steps to bring sanity to towns it leads by expelling councillors deemed to be corrupt, many feel the action is incomplete and should net all councillors who are enjoying a rags-to-riches lifestyle and targeting the small fish.

Gabbuza, who also has been an MP for more than a decade now, defended the decision by his colleagues not to step down and allow others to take over.

“There is no provision in our party constitution which says a member should have served a certain number of years for him to step down from being a councillor or MP,” said Gabbuza.

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