By Andrew Kunambura
Internal squabbles in the MDC Alliance could come at a huge cost to the coalition after it fielded two candidates each in 14 National Assembly constituencies ahead of the upcoming general elections on July 30.
A perusal of the notice published by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) on Tuesday shows that the alliance, led by Nelson Chamisa, is likely to split its vote in a record 14 constituencies where it has two candidates vying for the same seat.
The MDC Alliance has also given its arch-rivals, Zanu PF, a precious head-start in the elections after failing to field candidates in 89 council wards.
The alliance had given defiant members an ultimatum to withdraw their names within the seven-day deadline given by Zec, which expired on June 22.
Due to internal ructions within the coalition, it now looks like the MDC Alliance will go to the polls next month without resolving the crisis.
Its main electoral challenger, the ruling Zanu PF party, is now tipped to pounce on the confusion, and go on to wrest the seats since the opposition vote is likely to be split between alliance contestants.
Such gaffes have exposed the main opposition’s strategic flaws.
The MDC Alliance is blaming the electoral management body for the confusion, saying Zec was deliberately jeopardising its election campaign.
MDC national chairperson Morgen Komichi alleges that the commission included, on the final gazetted list, members who had formally withdrawn their names within the seven-day deadline.
He added that some of the alliance’s municipal and legislative seats were either omitted or wrongly listed under other parties.
Zanu PF is already claiming an early lead in the polls, having bagged at least 46 local authority wards and two constituencies where its candidates filed their papers at the sitting of the Nomination Court on June 14 unopposed.
Interestingly, the list gazetted by Zec has no MDC Alliance candidates in Mbare, Chiredzi North and Chiredzi South constituencies.
Komichi said the omissions were despite the fact that the alliance had successfully fielded candidates in those constituencies.
“We have seen that Zec made several errors that it must correct because in Mbare constituency, for example, we have a candidate in Starman Chamisa yet he is not on the list,” Komichi said.
“In Hwange, from wards one to six, there are errors all over with our candidates’ names appearing on the Zanu PF party or (Joice) Mujuru’s PRC (People’s Rainbow Coalition) or vice-versa while in Victoria Falls one of our councillors’ names is also not appearing,” he said.
On the issue of double candidates, Komichi insisted that officials in his party were now complying with the coalition’s directive to withdraw from the race notwithstanding the fact that the Zec deadline has since lapsed.
“That is an ongoing process and people are withdrawing. I can tell you that for example, despite being on the list, James Maridadi has since withdrawn from Mabvuku-Tafara to make way for James Chidhakwa , in Gutu North there is Juniel Manyere after Edmore Maramwidze Hamandishe agreed to withdraw,” he said.
Zec is denying the allegations.
“We processed candidates who came to the Nomination Court and were not responsible for going out to invite them,” Zec commissioner Netsai Mushonga said yesterday.
According to the provisions of the Electoral Act, once Zec has gazetted the names of the contestants, which is seven days after the sitting of the Nomination Court, it will not be possible to withdraw from the poll. DailyNews