Open Letter to Morgan Tsvangirai and MDC-T leadership: Let the people chose their candidates
From my simple and primitive understanding, democracy is a means for the people to choose their leaders and to hold their leaders accountable for their policies and their conduct in office. The people decide who will represent them in parliament, and who will head the government at the national and local levels. They do so by choosing between competing parties in regular, free and fair elections. Government is based on the consent of the governed.
In a democracy, the people are sovereign – they are the highest form of political authority. Power flows from the people to the leaders of government, who hold power only temporarily. Laws and policies require majority support in parliament, but the rights of minorities are also protected in various ways. The tyranny of the minority should never be allowed to suffocate the majority. The people are free to criticize their elected leaders and representatives, and to observe how they conduct the business of government and leadership.
In addition, a primary election is a preliminary process in which voters nominate party candidates for office. It is an election that narrows the field of candidates before an election for office so that the party can present a united front at the polls. This is the de-facto standard of the MDC-T. This is what we have come to expect as an internal process that divides and unites us in purposes.
In a true democracy, elected representatives at the national and local levels should listen to the people and respond to their needs and suggestions.
The events of the past few weeks have cast doubt on whether the MDC-T as a party is able to guarantee delivery of this democratic channel of power to the masses. We have all watched in astonishment and grim dismay as the party’s senior leadership has meddled in local grass-roots party structures and blatantly imposed candidates during the primary elections. This has been a huge embarrassment to the party and we have lost all moral authority as an organisation when compared to ZANU-PF. Lesson from a foolish man – democracy begins at home.
We, the young people of this great nation of ours demand free and fair elections from our party’s custodians. It is our sincere belief that we should stand guided by the principles of democracy in our conduct in such things. We stand to lose a lot due to these disconcerting exploits by our party leadership. Cutting backhand deals with politicians and expecting the people to accept them can never work in a true democracy.Advertisement
The people of Bulilima West demand a free and fair primary election not imposition of a candidate who is not preferred by the majority of the base. The people of Insiza South need the leadership to provide guidance in the selection of a viable candidate for parliament, not gentlemen’s agreements to elevate particular individuals. Ms Kwinjeh is counting upon the sincerity of your integrity. The people of Gwanda North and Umzingwane are also crying foul over these Nicodemus deals which were finalised in the shadows of the night.
This is the least that we expect of our leadership. In some of our stronghold provinces, we hear stories of candidates anointed from the top – this is so disappointing. The can of scandals has greatly exposed this organisation – from local election to national assembly elections. Elections are around the corner and we need to coalesce behind people with legitimate mandates to represent our respective constituencies.
The MDC-T as the party of the people still has an opportunity to right these wrongs. We should stop behaving in ways expected of Zanu PF. Even factionalism is a true characteristic of democracy, not this shameful imposition of candidates. Who do they represent? Which constituency do they stand for? Who will vote for them in the elections? Isn’t this giving Zanu PF an opportunity to take seats in our strong-holds? What kind of a leader demands loyalty and respect, and offers nothing in return?
The so-called party stalwarts, who have not inspired confidence in the people over the past five years, should take it as a lesson that the power rests with the people. They have mostly performed dismally in parliament/government and the people do not owe them anything. This is the true spirit of democracy – knowing that I can choose my leaders to represent my interests in the most fairest of ways. Some of these so-called MPs were last seen in the constituencies on election night 5 years ago. Real change is the change that happens even from within. Allow us to be part of that change.
All the gains that we have made as a party in the last thirteen years will go down the drain if protecting individuals is prioritised over the people’s right to choose their own leaders. We are going into a break-neck election that stands to be a game-changer in terms of where we go as a country in the next five years. We need a party that is united in purpose. Even those who lost primary elections on a free and fair platform know that they will have to throw their weight behind the people’s candidate and stop serving selfish interests.
The seeds of corruption have been planted in our fields; we need to uproot them out right now at this early stage. We cannot allow such practices to flourish within our democracy. We love our country and we believe that the MDC-T is our greatest opportunity to change our fortunes. The MDC-T party is our party, a people’s party – we should be allowed to choose our leaders on level ground.
Our first action in government should be a rebuttal and rejection of all the clandestine activities that Zanu PF has stood for in the past 33 years. We cannot have another cycle of Willowgate, GMB, Boka Banking scandal Chiadzwa/ Marange etc, all over again. We need to win the coming elections with a clear majority – set our country in a new footing. The people have your back, Morgan. There is no need to protect a few cronies.
All we are asking for is a chance at fair representation. This is our sincere plea.
Ocean Kunene can be contacted at email@example.com