The battle for the control of Movement for Democratic Change has taken another twist with reports that some current leaders are forcing Provincial structures not to openly nominate candidates for the Presidential contestation at the court ordered Extra Ordinary Congress set for 31 July 2020.
According to many sources who spoke to The Tribune, the current leaders must allow provinces to openly nominate the chosen candidate to fill in the void left by the death of Morgan Tsvangirai. “Once leaders suppress the voice of the people, fissures will start and this not what we want. Our party was founded on democratic principles and the leaders are chosen by the people, using structures set up in the party constitution. The Standing Committee itself reportedly set the deadline for nominations as 15 July to give time to grassroots structures to openly consult over preferred candidate and also for the candidates to have enough time to openly campaign. So what has changed now?” one senior founding member of the party fumed. Party insiders confirmed that a Standing Committee meeting early in the month had recommended to provinces to submit their nominees by 15th July 2020, only to shift goalposts to say that the matter will be discussed in the party’s next Standing Committee meeting set for 22 July 2020, a few days before the congress.
It is reported that some provinces started the verification of the 2014 structures to ensure the smooth nomination process and some of them were ready, in advance of the deadline. Another party insider confirmed that Harare, Mashonaland East and Chitungwiza had made their choice for the candidate only to be told on the eve of the deadline that the party’s Standing Committee and temporarily halted the process for another week. No reasons were given for the decision. This riled some party Provincial Chairpersons who had travelled to Harvest House to communicate their candidate choices.
“Given the timelines involved, why did they stop the nomination process? We hear rumours that some of the candidates are negotiating with Chamisa since they know that they don’t stand a chance in a free and fair contest. Our party is founded on principles of freedom and ability to openly choose leaders, a principle that was endorsed by the Constitutional Court judgement. Those who stand in the way of the process will find themselves at the wrong side of history. I urge provinces to openly declare their choices if they has completed their process. That’s democracy in action,” said another party grandee. She said there is no section in the party constitution that will stop provincial structures to openly nominate their preferred candidate.
Another senior party member Senator James Makore stated that while he was not privy to the reasons why the provinces have not openly nominated by now, “the provinces are constitutionally bound to nominate their choice on time. Provinces must and should be free to openly choose their preferred candidates so that party moves forward. It is procedural for provinces to openly nominate. They represent the people.”
Efforts to get a comment from Sen. Mwonzora were unsuccessful as he said to be on a business trip to Bulawayo.