JOCKEYING FOR URBAN SEATS PARALYSES MDC | A serious rift has emerged in the MDC-T in Masvingo, where party heavyweights are reportedly at loggerheads over allocation of parliamentary constituencies ahead of next year’s harmonised elections.
It is believed that several party gurus in the province were jockeying to control urban seats across the province that were considered “safe”.
Sources in the opposition party said the divisions among MDC-T heavyweights in Masvingo had virtually paralysed party activities and programmes, including mobilising supporters for the ongoing Biometric Voter Registration exercise. Among those said to be eyeing the safe seats in the MDC-T in Masvingo is national executive member Mr Takanai Mureyi, who is angling for the Masvingo Urban seat. Mr Mureyi contested in the rural Masvingo West parliamentary seat, where he lost to Zanu-PF Masvingo provincial chairman Cde Ezra Chadzamira.
Another heavyweight and prodigal son, Mr Tongai Matutu is also said to have set his sights on the “safe” Masvingo Urban seat, which he lost Zanu-PF politburo member Cde Daniel Shumba in 2013. In Chiredzi West constituency, which covers urban parts of Chiredzi and Triangle towns, MDC-T provincial spokesperson Mr Dusty Zivashe is also reportedly digging in and refusing to pave way for new candidates who want to represent the beleaguered opposition party.
“We have a serious problem in our party because of a serious rift among party heavyweights, who are clashing on who should contest on urban constituencies that are deemed safe. Remember the president (MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai) even urged us to concentrate on these safe seats, so the heavyweights are fighting to represent the party in the few urban seats across the province,” the sources said. The sources further revealed that the paralysis in the MDC-T in Masvingo was being exacerbated by poor funding and factional fighting, bringing party programmes to a virtual standstill.
The main battle in MDC-T was mainly centred on the Masvingo Urban seat, which was being eyed by both Messers Mureyi and Matutu. Two camps have emerged in the party, with one backing Mr Matutu to represent the MDC-T in Masvingo Urban from where he hails. Mr Matutu’s backers want Mr Mureyi to remain in his Masvingo West home area. MDC-T Masvingo provincial chairman Mr James Gumbi downplayed the alleged rift, saying his party was still to choose candidates who will contest in next year’s elections.
“If there is a rift over control of parliamentary seats, then it is something that is still to get to me because currently we are busy mobilising our people to register as voters,” he said. Mr Gumbi said consensus will be used to select candidates who will represent his party in next year’s elections.
“Only in situations where consensus fails will we be forced to resort to primary elections, but at the moment nothing of a rift in MDC-T Masvingo over control of urban seats has gotten into my ears,” he said. The MDC-T lost all the 26 House of Assembly seats to Zanu-PF in the 2013 elections and the opposition party has been struggling to make inroads in ruling party strongholds across the province. Mr Tsvangirai recently told his party’s Masvingo provincial council not to expend energy on ruling party strongholds like Chiredzi and Mwenezi, where the opposition was certain to lose. He urged party members to concentrate on urban areas where MDC-T enjoyed a modicum of support.