By Robert Tapfumaneyi
MDC leader Nelson Chamisa has vowed to stamp his foot and deal with simmering disharmony in the main opposition in the wake of embarrassing defeat to Zanu PF in a weekend by-election held in stronghold Bulawayo.
The Cowdray Park council by-election saw the two MDC Alliance candidates defiantly fielded by squabbling party factions both lose to Zanu PF in a seat the party had easily won during the 2018 harmonised by elections.
The seat fell vacant following the death in December last year, of party councillor Happison Ncube.
Until the 2014 parliamentary by-election in which an MDC poll boycott allowed Zanu PF to win seats in the city, Bulawayo has been regarded as an MDC fortress.
In a facebook post while reacting to the weekend debacle, Chamisa vowed to stamp out leadership “excesses” he felt were haemorrhaging the popular opposition’s support.
“Leadership excesses and conduct that results in the party donating a seat to our opposition is regrettable. This is the last of it,” Chamisa posted on his Facebook page Monday.
In the weekend by-election, Zanu PF’s Kidwell Mujuru outpolled all his opponents, garnering 1 889 votes with two MDC Alliance candidates polling a combined total of 1 450.
In the 30 July 2018 election, MDC garnered 8 514 votes.
Party spokesperson Jacob Mafume said the party’s leadership has since been inundated with a lot of complaints from concerned party followers who felt the Cowdray Park debacle was both unnecessary and too costly for a party that should be seen maintaining its dominance in stronghold areas.
“One of the major issues raised was that a loss of a seat in traditional MDC territory is unacceptable and that there must be no excuses about it,” Mafume said in a statement.
“The party agrees that there are lessons to be learnt and we assure the public that the elections directorate is compiling the observations, made and working on a plan to correct all the mistakes that the party made.
“We also accept the concern on the fielding of double candidates and appreciate that it created confusion. However, the party would like to assure its supporters that it (fielding 2 candidates) will not happen again.”
Mafume said the up-coming MDC elective congress will prioritise the strengthening of discipline in the party as well as a holistic renewal of internal cohesion.
“We however, want to highlight that the times in which candidate selection was taking place also came with a hostile environment in respect of which targeted violence was being perpetrated on those mandated by the party to handle internal elections,” Mafume said.
“Some of them had their homes invaded while others were arrested. In fact, one of the venues of the primary elections was raided by the police, disrupting the process.
“This may have resulted in challenges around candidate selection. The party will however do more to motivate the social base to defend our zones of autonomy because the figures reflect high levels of apathy, our supporters must be assured that solutions are being sought in this respect.”