Monday, July 01, 2013

(NEWZIMBABWE) Kwinjeh seethes over MDC-T primary election farce
25/06/2013 00:00:00
by Staff Reporter

MDC-T founding member, Grace Kwinjeh, has been left seething after being told she would not represent the party Makoni Central, two weeks after the party advised her she had won primary elections in the constituency.

The former journalist told SW Radio Africa that she is not accepting the sudden turn of events, at a time the MDC-T is rocked by allegations of the imposition canidates and vote irregularities.

It has also emerged that the “purported” winner in the primary election, Patrick Sagandira, has since been arrested following a violence complaint made by Kwinjeh’s election manager Tazviona Marima.

The party was also issuing conflicting messages with organising secretary Nelson Chamisa saying Sangadira had won the vote while Deputy Women’s Affairs Minister Jessie Majome said the election had yet to be concluded.

In a letter of protest addressed to the MDC-T leadership, Kwinjeh said she was not accepting claims she had lost the primary elections and blasted what she described as “double standards” in the party.
“For the record I am not accepting the charade that took place in Makoni Central,” she said.

“I won the last election and when some people found it difficult to announce me the winner, working together with their preferred candidate, they disrupted the process, in order to buy time and get this seat by hook or crook.

“The bulk of Zimbabweans who have lost faith in us as party, have (have done so) because of this kind of behaviour, they judge us not by what we say but we do.”

Last week there were protests at the MDC headquarters when angry demonstrators demanded answers after Elias Jembere, the MDC-T MP for Epworth, was confirmed as the parliamentary candidate after allegedly losing during the primaries.

There have been similar reports of irregularities in almost every province, with some disgruntled party supporters hijacking ballot boxes and burning them in frustration.

Speaking to SWRadio Africa Kwinjeh said she had been told that she was leading the vote with a significant majority in the primary elections which took place two weeks ago but the counting process had to be stopped following disturbances during the vote count.

MDC-T election officials, led by Majome, resumed the counting of the five remaining wards on Saturday, but Kwinjeh said this took place without her election manager and several other supporters as witnesses, due to more disruptions.

“There was violence on Saturday and we have a police report of people again who were badly assaulted by supporters of this candidate (Sagandira). Again the party did not say anything.

“So I just feel there are a lot of double standards at play. Something is going on, something that is just so wrong and I am not accepting it.”

She said more confusing was the fact that Sagandira was announced as the new winner even though election officials claim voting has not taken place in two remaining wards.

“So, on the one hand they are saying this guy has won but on the other hand they are telling districts to prepare so that they finish counting in two wards that are remaining. That is the confusion in the whole process which makes it lose integrity … and it’s really sad for internal party democracy,” Kwinjeh said.

Majome, who is the presiding officer, to SWRadio Africa that elections in Makoni Central were still underway and there is no winner yet as there are still two wards that are still to be counted.

“That election had a first round and preliminary results were announced. I don’t know who told her information that was incorrect and on Saturday we continued and announced preliminary results again,” Majome said.

Meanwhile, Kwinjeh’s supporters are surprised that the well-known activist and rights campaigner, who last year was honoured by her party for her role in coining the party's name, was not among the group of women to benefit from the new proportional representation system.

They also wondered why a long-serving female members like Kwinjeh went through a rigorous nomination processes when former MP Tracy Mutinhiri, who only joined the MDC-T in 2011 following her expulsion from Zanu PF, went through uncontested.

Mutinhiri was selected the party candidate for Marondera East even though the party’s provincial leadership gave the National Executive a damning dossier of her alleged role in the violence that took place in that province when she was the Zanu PF legislator for that area.

Kwinjeh, who was battling it out with five men in her constituency, said she does not know the criteria used to choose candidates. She had hoped her candidature would encourage more women to participate in politics.

Observers point out that Kwinjeh, who is currently living in Brussels, could have been disadvantaged by not being on the ground where she could be in control of the process.
But she insisted that the people of Makoni Central chose her knowing she was out of the country.

“I am a single mother of three. I can’t just pack my bags and go home not knowing what the future of my children is and what is going to happen to them,” she said.

“In 2005 I went to Zimbabwe. I was locked inside. When (Registrar General) Tobaiwa Mudede refused to give me the passport – the records are there at Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights – I could not be with my children for over three years. So the process to get me to Brussels is again another painful testimony.

She said: “I had my farewell party on Saturday. So I am really someone who had one foot on the road to go home. The leaders are aware of this but nobody has said anything. It is almost as if you don’t exist. You are invisible.”

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