Tuesday, April 09, 2013

(SUNDAY MAIL ZW) Blows at MDC-T meeting
Sunday, 07 April 2013 00:00
Sunday Mail Reporters

Members of the MDC-T national council last week almost came to blows at a meeting aimed at selecting primary election candidates after a clique that was disqualified from standing in the polls accused the party leadership of not following the proper selection criteria.

The disgruntled council members argued that only those who had been in the party for five years and above were eligible to run for election. However, several officials who do not ordinarily qualify on this criterion alone were cleared for the primaries.

Insiders revealed that national chairman Mr Lovemore Moyo, who chaired the meeting, failed to bring the house to order, resulting in fiery verbal exchanges.

The insiders said although national organising secretary Mr Nelson Chamisa later successfully quelled the situation, most of the disqualified members vowed to either quit the party or vote against it.

Those who win the primary polls slated for later this month will stand for the party at parliamentary or council level.

In an interview last Friday, Mr Chamisa confirmed the meeting was highly charged and that the selection criteria were applied selectively.

“The meeting was highly charged, of course.

“We are a democratic party that allows people to air their views, but, it is a lie to say that people were involved in any fistfights,” he said.

“The selection was done according to service to the party, membership, value addition to the party, integrity, honesty and people with clean hands.

“The general rule was that a person should have served the party for five years or more, but, in some instances, we had to forego this clause to consider how a person can add value to the party.”

Insiders said chaos erupted after the party’s Manicaland provincial chairman, Mr Julius Magarangoma, complained over the procedure through which candidates in his province were selected.

The insiders said Mr Magarangoma was particularly irked that former Daily News Editor Geoffrey Nyarota, who has expressed interest in contesting for the Makoni South House of Assembly seat, was cleared to stand during the primary elections.

They added that most members were unhappy with former Zanu-PF legislator Tracy Mutinhiri as well as ex-radio disc jockeys Eric Knight and Ezra Sibanda being given the green light to contest.

Knight and Sibanda spent the past few years overseas.

“The situation got really ugly as Magarangoma used vulgar language and vehemently opposed the procedure used in the selection process,” said the insiders.

“It is a fact that most members did not agree with the selection process. We were mainly worried why people who have been in the Diaspora were allowed to contest yet other members who have worked tirelessly for the party over the past few years were booted out.”

Contacted for comment, Mr Magarangoma said he only defended some candidates in his province. He, however, refused to shed light on the matter.

“I only spoke about the issues that occurred in my province. I cannot speak for the national council,” he said.

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