Mayors headache for MDC-T

THE MDC-T has been rocked by fresh divisions over the imposition of mayors and chairpersons of local council committees allegedly by party leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

PATRICE MAKOVA, POLITICAL EDITOR

This comes amid the writing of a petition by MDC-T youths questioning the party’s internal democratic systems and processes, including the imposition of mayoral candidates.

Sources said after losing the July 31 elections to President Robert Mugabe, Tsvangirai was now trying to assert his authority in the MDC-T by usurping the powers of elected councillors and making unilateral appointments.

A senior official in the party said there was tension after Tsvangirai began to directly appoint mayors, their deputies and chairpersons of committees in various cities and towns won by the MDC-T, under the guise of interviewing candidates.

In Harare, the official said Kambuzuma councillor Thomas Muzuva was last week imposed as deputy mayor by the MDC-T leader.

Tsvangirai also allegedly personally selected chairpersons of committees such as human resources, audit, finance, housing, environment and business development – putting loyalists in those positions.

He said similar impositions have been done in Mutare, with the exercise expected to be repeated in other cities such as Chitungwiza, Masvingo, Bulawayo and Gweru, all controlled by the MDC-T.

The official said eyebrows had also been raised after Tsvangirai indicated that he will tomorrow meet newly-elected Harare councillors to tell them who his preferred candidate for the mayor’s post is.

“Officials are now being appointed because of their loyalty and for patronage purposes,” the official said.

“These imposed officials will prove costly to the party because some of them have no capacity to improve service delivery – the backbone of rebuilding the party in the next five years.

“Councillors who were directly elected by the people, are being sidelined. It appears we have not learned from the mistakes made during the process of primary elections.”

Although the official said he was not yet privy to Tsvangirai’s mayoral candidate for Harare, he said the MDC-T leader had indicated that officials who contested the parliamentary elections and lost were out of the running.

This may rule out the likes of former Energy and power development minister Elton Mangoma and party spokesperson Douglous Mwonzora who were said to be vying for the post. Former deputy Justice minister Obert Gutu, outgoing mayor Muchadeyi Masunda and chairperson of the Elected Councillors Association of Zimbabwe, Warship Dumba, were also said to be among those interested in the Harare mayoral post.

Another official said Tsvangirai was getting bad advice from some members of the national standing committee who wanted to destroy both the party and the MDC-T leader.

“I wonder if he is getting advice from technocrats,” he said.

“He has now become authoritarian and this is causing friction and raises the possibility of a fragmentation of the party before the 2018 elections.”

The official said in the event councillors in the concerned cities decided to hold elections of mayors and other office holders using the secret ballot, Tsvangirai’s nominees risked being rejected, with the possibility that Zanu PF could capitalise on this.

The MDC-T Harare youth assembly last Thursday petitioned Tsvangirai to reconsider the imposition of mayors.

The petition said the party’s national council, which last met at Tsvangirai’s residence, and numerous other analysts, attributed the election result partly to the manner in which the MDC-T conducted its internal affairs.

“They argued that the Zanu PF rigging was made easier by our own failure to conduct our primaries democratically and to address the concerns of aggrieved parties leading to an unusually high number of independent candidates branching away from our party and in some instances double candidates,” it read.

The MDC-T youths said Tsvangirai’s position was not under threat, but he should consider making further and extensive consultations before appointing mayoral candidates.

“In so doing, it is critical to take the people’s views seriously and to transcend the Jericho Wall that some of our leaders have tried to build around you for their own selfish ends,” the youths said.

“There are people who prevented you from knowing the truth in the run-up to the election, who today are on the verge of succeeding in doing the same with the appointment of mayors to the grave detriment of the party.”

The petition said the MDC-T must demonstrate to the world that the party was indeed the democratic alternative that it claimed to be.
Mwonzora yesterday said Tsvangirai, as the leader of the MDC-T had a say in the appointment of mayors and other officials.

“The national executive (MDC-T) mandated the president of the party to have a final say in the appointment,” he said.

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