FORMER Pumula MP Albert Mhlanga’s decision to contest the June 10 by-election has reportedly divided the MDC Renewal Team, with some pushing for his dismissal for defying the faction’s position not to contest.
BY NQOBILE BHEBHE
Mhlanga, a former Bulawayo deputy mayor, is contesting the seat as an independent candidate.
MDC Renewal is boycotting the June 10 by-elections, citing lack of electoral and legislative reforms to guarantee free and fair elections.
The group’s chairperson Samuel Sipepa-Nkomo had prior to the sitting of the nomination courts warned members against standing as independents, saying they risked expulsion.
Mhlanga told Southern Eye on Tuesday that he was given a green-light by the party leadership, including Tendai Biti, who is the former MDC-T secretary-general.
However, MDC Renewal national spokesperson Jacob Mafume and his Bulawayo counterpart Edwin Ndlovu said the party was not notified about the former legislator’s intentions to stand as an independent.
Mafume said Mhlanga had expelled himself from the party while Ndlovu indicated that the former Pumula legislator remained a member of the party.
“We are of the view that where a person has said they are independent, that is the end of the matter,” Mafume said.
“He will advise us of what he intends to do in due course.”
Ndlovu on the other hand said Mhlanga would not be expelled.
“The position of the party is that we are not contesting these elections as MDC Renewal or independents, but individuals who may want to contest would do that as independents without involving the party in any way,” Ndlovu said.
“The party will not commit resources to that cause, either monetary or human, and those who decided to stand as independents will not be criminalised as well those who might want to help them.”
Mhlanga, who has been the Pumula legislator since 2000, is contesting against six candidates.
Fourteen by-elections will be held on June 10 after the MDC-T caused the recall of MDC Renewal legislators for jumping ship. All the MDC formations are boycotting the polls.