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How MDC-T lost a safe constituency

08 Aug 2021 at 07:37hrs | Views
One of the most sensational stories of the 2013 harmonised elections the MDC-T primary election fraud at Mutungagore never saw the light of day in Zimbabwe's media.

Zanu-PF secured victory as a result in what was an MDC-T safe constituency, Makoni South, going back to the controversy-ridden 2008 polls.

In December 2012 a delegation representing various wards in the constituency approached me.

They were disillusioned with the sitting Member of Parliament, Pishayi Muchauraya.

They wanted me to stand against him in the forthcoming general elections scheduled for July 2013.

They had initially approached me in 2010, following my return from the United States, but I had turned them down.

As the polls now approached I agreed to stand after I obtained MDC-T president Morgan Tsvangirai's approval.

After a bruising campaign Muchauraya emerged as winner of the MDC-T primary elections, held at Mutungagore Business Centre on June 9.

He accomplished this amazing feat while detained in Rusape Remand Prison.

He had threatened to kill three people, including myself.

While he won the primary he proceeded to lose the MDC-T safe seat, when he faced off with Zanu-PF's candidate, Mandiitawepi Chimene, on July 31.

The primary election campaign witnessed blatantly fraudulent activity and the election itself so much rigging that an official delegation was dispatched to Harvest House, the MDC-T headquarters in Harare.

There, a petition addressed to party secretary-general Tendai Biti, was submitted.

The major bone of contention was the issue of the qualification of ward executive members who were entitled to vote at the MDCT primaries.

In terms of MDC-T rules, only those ward executives who had been registered on official lists compiled and approved back in March 2013 were allowed to vote on production of their official national registration card or passport.

This was done to confirm that the details on the national registration card matched those recorded on the list back in March.

But during the two weeks running up to the primaries, officials of the Muchauraya camp had travelled around the constituency and distributed receipts for the purchase of new MDC-T membership cards.

Those in possession of these receipts were then allowed to vote, even if their names were not registered as ward executives.

This change was announced in the morning of primary election day.

Absolute pandemonium broke out as a result.

The four-man delegation that travelled to Harare was received by the MDCT deputy chairperson, Morgen Komichi, in the absence of party chairperson, Lovemore Moyo.

Komichi received the detailed petition, outlining the alleged rigging under the supervision of MDC-T organising secretary, Nelson Chamisa, and the fraudulent nature of the primary election conducted at Mutungagore.

After listening to and quizzing the delegation, Komichi assured them that their allegations would be investigated and they would be advised within two weeks.

This never happened.

I was not the only MDCT candidate who submitted a petition of protest at Harvest House.

The pile was quite high when the delegation deposited the Makoni South envelope on top.

Sentiment grew among the many candidates who were convinced they had been cheated by their own "party of excellence" that they should file their papers on nomination day as independent candidates.

Supporters said if the MDC-T had rigged the primaries so openly, then they would vote for Zanu-PF in Makoni South on July 31.

In fact, throughout Zimbabwe the electorate was more inclined to vote along political party lines, and not in support of individual independent candidates.

The MDC-T complained about its punishing defeat by Zanu-PF, allegedly as a result of electoral rigging through the sinister intervention of Nikuv International Projects, the Israeli advanced technological solutions and software designing company.

Evidence abounds, however, that the build-up to this defeat started to gather momentum within the MDC-T party itself as early as the end of May 2013.

The party became a victim of its own popularity, as scores of aspiring candidates emerged and challenged the party's old guard, many of whom were sitting MPs in the outgoing government of national unity.

On 9 July the Independent Candidates' Coalition was launched in Gweru.

I was one of the 31 members at its inauguration, who believed they had been cheated at the primaries. Spokesperson Felix Mafa Sibanda of Magwegwe North in Bulawayo said members were going to stand as independent candidates because of "the rot bedevilling the MDC-T. "Certain individuals in MDC-T have grown too powerful and dangerous, stifling democracy."

Fingers of accusation for the shambolic conduct of the MDC-T primary elections nationwide were pointed, rather menacingly, at the party's youthful organising secretary, Nelson Chamisa.

He allegedly called the shots and manipulated the presiding officers from his office at Harvest House.

Many candidates who were popular, but not in Chamisa's good books were thus allegedly sacrificed.

I met Zanu-PF candidate Mandiitawepi Chimene in Nyazura towards the end of June.

Having confided in me earlier in the campaign that she believed she stood no chance whatsoever against me at the polls, she now exuded confidence.

"I am sorry, my brother, I hear you were rigged at Mutungagore," she said with genuine sympathy.

"But do not worry, I will take all your votes."

She romped to victory on July 31 with more than 8 000 votes to Pishayi Muchauraya's 4 000 or so, while I trailed far behind with a paltry 400 as an independent candidate.

But I felt a sense of accomplishment.

As requested by them, I had liberated the people from what they said was the harmful grip of their sitting MP.

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Geoffrey Nyarota can be reached by email: gnyarota@gmail,com

Source - the standard
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