MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai has been sucked into an alleged internal vote-rigging scam following Saturday’s controversial election of Bulawayo deputy mayor, Gift Banda, to the post of provincial chairperson.
About four MDC-T Bulawayo districts were reportedly barred from attending the provincial congress where Tsvangirai was personally accrediting delegates.
Banda polled 707 votes against 213 for Senator Matson Hlalo, his main challenger, in an election that was marred by violence, allegations of vote-buying and reports of ballot stuffing.
Losing candidates dismissed the results as a sham and accused Tsvangirai of personally tacitly rigging the elections in favour of Banda.
“It was just a repeat of what they did during our last congress in Bulawayo, where they rigged the elections in favour of Gorden Moyo [ex-Bulawayo MDC-T chairperson],” a fuming Hlalo said yesterday.
“They have done it again; they rigged again as was expected.
“It’s a loss for democracy, a sad day for all party members who believe in democracy.
“How can the election be legitimate, when four districts were barred from attending?
“We [MDC-T] always talk of being rigged, yet we are specialists in rigging.”
MDC-T district members from Lobengula, Makokoba, Bulawayo East and Magwegwe were allegedly barred from voting.
Hlalo’s election agent Swithern Chirowodza said they would contest the results, describing the election process as a monumental farce.
“The elections were rigged,” he charged. “The accreditation was not done according to the set guidelines and the fact that Tsvangirai was personally accrediting delegates is reflective of the level of rigging.
“We are not accepting these fake results, it was a sham election. The total vote cast is also reflective of ballot stuffing and confirms our suspicions. The vote tally is not congruent with the number of delegates as at the confirmation process. A total of 1 390 are said to have cast their votes yet we had only 700 confirmed delegates,” Chirowodza claimed.
However, Banda yesterday denied the vote-rigging claims, saying it was “unfortunate that the losing parties will resort to lying to tarnish the vote process”.
“There is no winner or loser to this election,” he said.
“It’s just that the people, the delegates, decided to choose someone to lead them for a certain period. People should accept the results so that we move forward as a party ahead of the 2018 elections. We need to come together, unite as a party against our common enemy Zanu PF. It’s unfortunate that losing parties will resort to allegations.”
Dorcas Sibanda and Albert Mhlanga, the Bulawayo Central and Pumula MPs were elected unopposed to retain their posts of deputy chairperson and organising secretary, respectively.
Meanwhile, tension in Tsvangirai’s party reached boiling point yesterday ahead of congress later this month with party bigwigs taking their campaign to the social media where they publicly dressed down and teased their rivals on Facebook.
Harare provincial spokesperson Obert Gutu started the storm when he posted a subtle message soliciting contributions from his followers on information regarding the character of a cobra, saying he was studying the characteristics of the venomous reptile?
“Can anyone out there furnish me with the defining characteristics of a cobra? I am carrying out a little project on the subject of the anthropology of reptiles,” Gutu wrote on his Facebook page.
However, his rivals took the message as a direct attack on the party’s organising secretary, Nelson Chamisa, whose nickname is “Cobra”.
First to hit back was Chamisa’s known ally Charlton Hwende, warning Gutu to “avoid treading on swampy grounds”.
Chamisa is currently leading the race for the MDC-T secretary-general’s post after he was nominated by most of the party’s provinces.
Said Hwende in response to Gutu’s post: “It is just unnecessary my brother, everyone knows that the Renewal Team use that name Cobra to describe leader Nelson Chamisa, so we don’t want Renewal politics.”
By around 5pm yesterday, Gutu’s post had attracted over 70 comments with some sympathising with Chamisa, while others described the latter as divisive and manipulative. Others accused Chamisa of misleading Tsvangirai and causing the opposition party to lose its public appeal.