The Citizens Coalition for Change’s (CCC) final candidate selection process in Harare was marred by reports of violence, chaos and vote rigging, threatening to tarnish the opposition party’s image ahead of August elections.
CCC did not hold primaries but used a “citizen caucus” system where ordinary people were meant to select aspiring candidates in a peaceful and transparent manner.
However, the run-up to the candidate selection was heated, with a fierce rivalry emerging between Harare East MP Tendai Biti and Harare North MP Allan Markham.
Observers heard that some Zanu PF activists tried to disrupt the CCC process, while there were also claims of aspiring candidates bussing in outsiders to vote for them – a practice supposedly banned by CCC leader Nelson Chamisa.
While CCC spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere claimed the candidate selection went smoothly with an “overwhelming turnout” and no violence, her comment seemed at odds with reports of chaos and irregularities on the ground.
Mahere said an independent panel will now collate information and community consensus before announcing the eventual candidates. But some doubt that process will be truly impartial and transparent.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa, seeking a second term, has set the elections for August 23. His Zanu PF party chose candidates through chaotic primary elections controlled by military and intelligence chiefs.
Nomination courts will sit this week to consider candidates, with the presidential nomination court meeting in Harare. But CCC seems to have bungled its opportunity to present a credible alternative to Mnangagwa by failing to pull off peaceful and fair candidate selection.