DOUGLAS Mwonzora’s MDC T party faces implosion as it emerges that the upcoming March by-elections have further widened divisions in his party, with some members openly defying him and taking sides with other top leaders in the party.
The MDC-T is scouting for candidates to represent the party in the March 26 by-elections to fill a total of 133 Local Government and parliamentary seats left vacant after the recall of MDC Alliance legislators and councillors.
The candidate selection process has widened the rift between Mwonzora and his deputies Thokozani Khupe and Elias Mudzuri and chairman Morgen Komichi.
Komichi, Mudzuri and Khupe are reportedly flexing muscles, pushing for their preferred candidates for the by-elections as they create their own political power bases ahead of the party’s March 5 elective congress.
Last week, Mwonzora suffered a huge blow when four selected candidates in Bulawayo declined his offer to represent the party in the by-elections.
Dorcas Nyoni (ward 19) in Magwegwe, former councillor Shella Musonda and Annie Nyathi both for Makokoba ward 8 and Sibusisiwe Adams of Mpopoma ward 9, rejected Mwonzora and openly pledged their allegiance to Khupe.
Indications are that the party is now in a dilemma, running short of candidates for some wards and constituencies ahead of the March 26 by-elections. They have resorted to picking any names of suspected Mwonzora loyalists hoping they will agree to contest on the party ticket.
The Standard is in possession of the party’s list of candidates showing that the MDC-T is yet to find candidates for 9 House of Assembly and 24 ward council seats.
The vacant parliamentary slots are Harare East, Mberengwa South, Mwenezi East, Mutasa South, Mbizo, Marondera East, Binga North, Pumula and Murehwa.
The party is also yet to find candidates for Guruve ward 7, Takawira ward 3, Mberengwa ward 25 and 34, Mbizo ward 12, Zibagwe ward 8, Gokwe North ward 23, Insiza ward 20 and 11, Gwanda ward 7, Umzingwane ward 20, Beitbridge wards 6, Kusile Lupane ward 15 and 19, Bikita ward 21, Chiredzi ward 16 and 9, Chegutu ward 14 Zvimba ward 4, Mondoro ward 10, Nyanga ward 9, Mutare ward 17 and 9 and Makoni ward 4.
But the list also shows that some constituencies and wards have two to six members jostling for candidature. The aspiring candidates belong to different camps aligned to Mwonzora, Khupe, Mudzuri and Komichi. Some of the constituencies with several candidates are Kuwadzana West and Mufakose with five applicants each; Makokoba ward 8 with four applicants, Kuwadzana ward 37 with five applicants, Mufakose ward 34 with seven applicants, Buidiriro ward 43 has four applicants among many others with several applicants.
Party spokesperson Witness Dube however downplayed the divisions in an interview with The Standard on Thursday. He said the party was still vetting prospective candidates.
“I do not know about this list. I am in the elections directorate where we receive applications from where we are going to bring out the list of all the people who would be nominated. We have not compiled such a list as a department,” Dube said.
“We are still receiving applications for candidates from our members. The nomination court sits on January 24 and they claim we are struggling to field candidates, yet we are still far from nomination date. In fact, we are going to be oversubscribed in every constituency and ward.
“We are free as a party to field the best candidates in every constituency. We are still vetting candidates. We just registered them as interested parties and they will go through the vetting process to qualify.”
In December, Khupe dragged Mwonzora to court to stop moves to recall her from Parliament. Khupe said she had received information that a national council meeting held on November 26, 2021 had resolved to boot her out of Parliament. Mwonzora denied the claims.
Meanwhile, Mwonzora has said his party would contest the by-elections under the MDC Alliance name. He wrote to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) claiming ownership of the MDC Alliance name and symbols.
But MDC Alliance senior member David Coltart said Mwonzora’s action exposed his opportunism.
“Mwonzora’s letter to the Zec is just shameless opportunism, written knowing he has Emmerson Mnangagwa, Zanu PF, ZEC and the courts on his side; but not the people. He and his cabal will discover that the vision, people and policies behind a name are far more important than a name itself,” Coltart said.