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Rigging, vote-buying alleged at MDC Alliance provincial congress

by Staff reporter
19 Apr 2019 at 07:15hrs | Views
Commotion and allegations of vote buying marred the MDC Alliance provincial congress held at Masvingo Sports Club that saw incumbent chair Mr James Gumbi retaining his position after winning by a narrow margin.

Mr Gumbi garnered 1 004 votes while his closest rival, Advocate Simon Mupindu, got 966 votes during the polls that were presided over by party leader Mr Nelson Chamisa. Initially, ex-Masvingo Urban legislator Mr Tongai Matutu was set to challenge Mr Gumbi, but he was disqualified from the race for abandoning the party soon after the 2013 polls.

Mr Matutu then threw his weight behind Advocate Mupindu after his disqualification. Mr Gumbi retained his position amid accusations of rigging and vote buying from his rivals, further deepening factionalism in the party that has manifested in intense infighting in Masvingo over the past few years.

All those who were in Mr Matutu's faction fell by the wayside in the provincial elections that were closely watched by Mr Chamisa.

"Gumbi was dishing out money so that he gets nominated," said a party supporter.

"He is simply exploiting his financial muscle to buy votes and this is not good for our party going into the future because it will be left severely weakened."

Mr Gumbi was accused of fraudulently getting nominations from 23 out of 26 party districts in the province. His backers poured cold water on allegations by Mr Matutu's camp, accusing the ex-Masvingo legislator of having dumped the party when party founding leader Dr Morgan Tsvangirai was still alive.

In his speech before the voting, Mr Chamisa appealed to his party members to shun violence which he said threatened to split the party in Masvingo as evidenced by skirmishes reported during the lower-tier level polls.

"We do not want the demon of violence," he said.

"Do not come here drunk; when you come here, you come with a legitimate grievance. We want things to be done according to the rules of the game. If you are angry do not transfer your brain to your muscles."

Voting in the provincial elections was delayed by a day as delegates haggled and fought over verification of party structures.

Source - the herald