THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) yesterday said it was satisfied with the way the nomination process proceeded, despite incidents of violence by the MDC Alliance. In an interview at the Harare Magistrates’ Courts where she visited to assess the process, ZEC chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba, however, said there were reports violence.
“It is quite satisfactory. I just want to reiterate that ZEC has availed copies of the provisional voters’ roll. We are assisting aspiring candidates, those who might not know if those who have nominated them are in the voters’ roll,” said Justice Chigumba.
She said the announcement of candidates would be done by end of day yesterday since the Nomination Court would only have one sitting.
“From the reports that have come through, we have few issues of intra party violence where people tore each other’s papers, but that has since been addressed,” she said.
MDC-T national deputy treasurer Mr Charlton Hwende confirmed that some of their candidates had their papers torn by disgruntled party members in Manicaland Province.
He said they signed new nomination papers for the affected candidates.
Some MDC Alliance members complained that the MDC-T had declined to sign their papers at the eleventh hour.
“They took our nomination papers in the past three days only to tell us that they could not sign them,” said Zanu Ndonga spokesperson Mr Reketayi Semwayo, who was due to contest in Chipinge Central.
The Herald understands that the MDC Alliance refused to sign nomination papers for all Zanu-Ndonga candidates and the Multi-Christian Democratic Party led by Mathias Guchutu.
It is also further understood that MDC-T unilaterally reduced the number seats it had allocated to other political parties in the alliance, affecting the Welshman Ncube-led MDC and Transform Zimbabwe.
It was still not clear how many seats were finally given to the political parties, but senior MDC-T officials confirmed the sudden change of heart by Mr Nelson Chamisa.
A senior MDC-T official said they felt it was futile to go into an election alongside fringe political parties that had no value to the alliance as some of them had no known structures.
Some losing candidates from MDC-T submitted their names as independent candidates.
These include Mr Simon Chidhakwa, who was defeated by Mr Job Sikhala in Zengeza West.
Mr James Maridadi, who lost to James Chidhakwa in Tafara Mabvuku, also filed his nomination papers but it was still not clear on whose party ticket he was riding.
Mr Gladyman Hakata, who lost to Vimbai Java, daughter to the late MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai, also filed as an independent candidate.
Another MDC-T politician Ms Jessie Majome is also standing as an independent in Harare West.
Zanu-PF candidate for Zengeza East Dr Obadiah Moyo pledged to improve the health system in the country if voted as Member of Parliament.
Former Zanu-PF Harare South MP Mr Shadreck Mashayamombe filed his papers on an MDC Alliance ticket.
In Mashonaland West, the Nomination Court opened at the Chinhoyi Civil Court at 10am, with ZEC provincial elections manager Mr Austin Ndlovu presiding over the court.
Candidates who successfully filed their nomination papers were from Zanu-PF, MDC Alliance, MDC-T, National Patriotic Front, Zimbabwe Partners for Prosperity and People’s Rainbow Coalition, among others.
Several independent candidates also filed their nomination papers.
The court adjourned at 4pm but continued to sit while verifying the nomination papers submitted by the candidates.
Addressing journalists, ZEC commissioner Mrs Joyce Kazembe said the number of aspiring candidates was overwhelming.
“There is an amazing turn out compared to the last time I was here and what I experienced then. This outcome and the influx people is really amazing and it means people are really keen to occupy political offices in Zimbabwe,” she said.
Among the highlights was in Chegutu East where incumbent Cde Webster Shamu and his close rival in the Zanu-PF primary elections rival Cde Vengai Musengi had their papers accepted by the court.
Cde Musengi, however, later withdrew after the intervention from senior party leaders with Zanu-PF Central Committee member Cde Philip Chiyangwa playing a mediatory role.
Announcing Cde Musengi’s withdrawal, Cde Chiyangwa said the two rivals agreed there would be a single candidate for Zanu-PF.
Cde Musengi said his decision was informed on preserving the party’s interests.
Former Magunje legislator Dr Godfrey Gandawa who was recalled from Zanu-PF also successfully filed his nomination papers as an independent candidate.
“I am standing as an independent candidate because Zanu-PF recalled me from Parliament because they do not need me. I want to work for my community and finish some of the projects that are currently running.”
In Kadoma, scores of disgruntled MDC-T members filed their papers as independent candidates.
Aspiring city councillors filed their papers at Kadoma Town House while those from Sanyati Rural filed at the local authority’s offices in Kadoma.
MDC-T aspiring Ward 8 councillor Wilbert Murambiwa said: “l can say from 2000 l have been an activist representing MDC-T and imposition of candidates has forced me to stand as an independent candidate.”
Ward 5 MDC-T aspiring councillor Mr Kamuzimbi Arikanjero said his papers went missing.
Eight members from the MDC-T who failed to make it during their primary elections entered their nominations as independent candidates.
These includes, Mrs Lucia Nzwere (Ward 2), Mr Martin Dhumbura (Ward 3), Mr Sam Jumbe (Ward 4), Mr Benjamin Mutema (Ward 5), Mr Nicholas Phiri (Ward 9), Mr Shumba Taperesa (Ward 10) and Fanuel Mabvuta (Ward 12).
Zanu-PF member Cde Prosper Mavhunga who had filed his papers as an independent has since indicated that he would withdraw from the race.
In Chitungwiza rowdy MDC-T members aligned to Mr Chamisa assaulted members of the faction led by Dr Thokozani Khupe in a bid to block them from filing their nomination papers for the local authority elections.
Factions within the MDC-T saw the party fielding two candidates for each seat.
Mr Ashley Hongoro, secretary general for the youth in the Dr Khupe-led faction, was beaten up while trying to submit his papers to contest in Ward 16 of Chitungwiza.
The violent group accused him of disrespecting them by wearing MDC-T party regalia.
He was clad in a red jacket and cap with the MDC-T logo.
“I was holding nomination papers for our candidates intending to file them at the nomination court, when a group of thugs from Mr Chamisa’s Camp pounced on me.
“They unsuccessfully tried to wrestle the papers from me and I quickly threw them in into the courtroom. After failing to grab the papers, the thugs dragged me away assaulting me until the police intervened, “ said Mr Hongoro.
He said the thugs tore his jacket in the process and poured water on him.
Mr Tendai Simon, who is the sitting councilor for Ward 3, had his papers torn and was barred from exercising his right to contest.
He was physically and verbally abused with others saying he had overstayed as a councilor.
He was whisked away for security reasons.
Another victim of violence, Mr Luckson Mugadza, who is also aligned to Dr Khupe’s faction, had to run for dear life as the angry mob went after him.
He had to be locked up in one of the council offices for safety until adjournment of the nomination court.
“When I arrived at the council offices with food for our team, the Chamisa group shouted at me labelling me Khupe’s follower. They threatened to beat me before I took to my heels. I had to seek refuge in one of the offices until now when the violent thugs have been driven outside by the police,” he said.
Zanu-PF was organized and its council candidates successfully filed their papers without incident.
Aspiring councilor for Ward One, Mr Gilbert Munetsi said Zanu-PF was surprised by the MDC-T violence.
“We are more organized because we had our primary elections much earlier. We had enough time for a healing process that saw the winners and the losing candidates shaking hands and pledging to continue working together. We came up with one candidate for each of the 25 wards in Chitungwiza,” he said.