Tsvangirai reads riot act


MASVINGO — MDC-T leader Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday accused the party’s aspiring parliamentary candidates of “jumping the gun” and announcing their candidature before the party had proclaimed dates for primary elections.

MDC-T spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora told NewsDay yesterday that Tsvangirai read the riot act during a closed-door provincial council meeting at Masvingo Civic Centre.

“Some aspiring parliamentarians were already campaigning in various constituencies,” Mwonzora said.

“They are offside. The party will announce the dates for primary elections. This is not yet time to campaign. They were told it is not acceptable.”

Defying the order, according to Mwonzora, would be viewed as insubordination.

“If anyone goes against the order, that will be insubordination and the party constitution will take its course,” he said.

While reaffirming that the party would go for primaries, Mwonzora, also Nyanga North MP, said the gag order was not meant to sideline aspiring parliamentarians or to protect the incumbents, some of whom have grown unpopular.

“The dates for primaries will be set after a special executive meeting to be held probably next week,” he said.

“We are not protecting anyone. The MDC is the political home of young people.

“We boast of the youngest ministers and MPs.

“We encourage new players and, as such, we are going to hold primary elections in terms of the (party) constitution. We have not invented anything.”

Mwonzora said the criteria for incumbents would be that the party structures would confirm or not if they still wanted the sitting MP to contest on an MDC-T ticket.

“Party structures have to confirm if a sitting MP should stand,” he said.

Two-thirds majority confirmation is needed. If the party structures do not, then there would be primary elections.

“That is not imposition, but a decision of the local leadership of the party,” Mwonzora said.

“If the local leadership endorses a candidate, then who are we to stifle their voice?

“We will start with primary polls in constituencies where we do not have a sitting MP.”

The meeting was attended by the MDC-T top brass, among them secretary-general Tendai Biti and chairman Lovemore Moyo. – NewsDay

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