ZIMBABWE might be headed for another violent election this year if the chaos and intra-party violence currently rocking both the governing Zanu PF party and main opposition MDC-T’s primary elections is anything to go by, human rights groups have warned.
Both parties are reportedly on the edge with candidates slugging it out in violent internal polls amid allegations of massive rigging and attempts by top officials to impose their preferred candidates in certain constituencies.
Human Rights Watch Southern Africa director Dewa Mavhinga said: “Both Zanu PF primaries and MDC-T processes to choose MPs have been shambolic, chaotic and characterised by protests over lack on internal democracy and adherence to clear rules. This does not augur well for the upcoming national elections.”
Mavhinga and other human rights organisations spoke as scores of disgruntled MDC-T supporters stormed the party headquarters in Harare yesterday, claiming irregularities in the selection of candidates during the consensus-building exercise which started at the weekend.
The demonstrators accused the opposition party leaders of imposing candidates of their choice.
“If Zanu PF can have primary elections, surely the MDC-T can do better. We have accused Zanu PF of denying our party the voters’ roll, but it is exactly what we are doing internally,” one of the protesters at Morgan Tsvangirai House, said.
But MDC-T chairman Morgen Komichi dismissed the demonstrators as “hired” Zanu PF activists on mission to discredit his party.
“I suspect those who are demonstrating are not MDC-T members. Our people know all our processes and after the primary elections, we are going for another round of appeals where we will deal with issues raised by our legitimate members. They must come through the office of the chairman,” he said.
This came as MDC-T’s Harare West sitting MP Jessie Majome pulled out of the party’s candidates’ selection system, citing underhand manoeuvres to push her out of the race and vowed to stand as an independent candidate.
“Once I say that I am putting my hat in the ring as an independent, it means I am not representing the party in the election and that is what I have simply done. I have withdrawn from seeking the party ticket and when the election comes I intend to compete for the seat of Harare West,” she said.
Violent skirmishes were recorded in Budiriro, Glen View North, Glen View South, Zengeza, Kambuzuma and Gokwe Central where MDC-T candidates clashed over the selection criteria.
In Budiriro, sitting legislator, Costa Machingauta had to flee the venue of the meeting as party youths charged at him. In Glen View North, party supporters turned violent and accused sitting legislator, Fani Munengami of maliciously removing names of those contesting against him in the party’s primary elections.