Several prospective candidates in Bulawayo who were expected to represent the MDC-T led by Douglas Mwonzora in the upcoming March 26 by-elections have withdrawn their candidatures, accusing the party of not adhering to its constitution and lack of proper structures.
The other reason behind the withdrawals was that Mwonzora is forceful in how ran the party as he did not listen to advice.
Five candidates, former Ward 8 councillor Sheila Musonda, Sibusisiwe Adams of Ward 9, Mildred Ncube of Ward 18, Dorcas Nyoni of Ward 19 and Annie Nyathi of Ward 8 tendered in their resignations to the party’s secretary-general Paurina Mpariwa asking for their names to be withdrawn.
In her resignation letter, Nyoni clearly states she does not belong to any of Mwonzora’s structures in Bulawayo.
In an interview with CITE, Musonda confirmed she was stepping down from the party candidacy as she did not agree with the way party processes were handled.
“He does not know the 2014 structures as he has not met with them. We, as the 2014 structures are under Thokozani Khupe working with her as our Vice President. It is better for me to step down because Mwonzora forces things.”
The former councillor also claimed MDC-T had unprocedurally created new structures without the knowledge of party members.
“Mwonzora created a fake province led by Phelela Masuku (the Nketa legislator). We don’t know where he was chosen because we didn’t elect him. I stand with Dr Khupe and I don’t want to be his candidate,” she said.
Musonda’s sentiments tie in with claims from sources who allege there is deep rooted factionalism in the MDC-T between Mwonzora and Khupe.
Reached for comment, MDC-T Spokesperson, Witness Dube, dismissed the withdrawal of the candidates saying it was a “huge lie,” as the party was still finalising its list of councillors.
“No candidate has withdrawn. There are applicants who have withdrawn. As of now, we have not finalised our candidates. There are people who had applied to the province to be candidates then wrote to the same province asking for their applications to be withdrawn before the province could even sit and make their recommendations to the election directorate,” he said.
Dube explained party members interested in contesting applied to the province, which then writes recommendations to the national secretary of elections in the national election directorate chaired by the national chairperson.
“I’m also part of that election directorate committee as information secretary. Then when those candidates come they are vetted, go through security vetting, background checks then names go back to the province to say they are eligible for a primary election or can nominate someone via consensus,” said the spokesperson.
He added that as for these individuals, their names had not even gone to the elections directorate.
“But as of now, the names will come back, of course, minus them because they have withdrawn and we are proceeding to finalise some of the wards. For instance in Musonda’s withdrawal, we had eight applicants in which after our processes, they were reduced to around five because some of the people were new,” Dube said.
“The constitution says for you to contest in any public office you should have been in the party not less than two years, so some people were there for a few months So we disqualified them.”
MDC-T has said it will field candidates in all the vacant seats and would contest as the MDC-Alliance, a name used by the rival Nelson Chamisa-led faction of the MDC, arguing it owned rights to the name.
According to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, there are 150 elective vacancies, which comprise 28 parliamentary seats and 122 council seats emanating from recalls, deaths and dismissals.