as fists fly at district elections
By Upenyu Chaota
The Nelson Chamisa-led MDC has hit turbulent waters in Masvingo after members of rival camps fought each other during district elections conducted last weekend.
The clashes pitted members of the James Gumbi and Tongai Matutu factions, leading to the abortion of the Masvingo district elections as one party activist grabbed a ballot box and tossed it about.
The MDC factional fights in Masvingo stem from the controversial provincial and district congresses held last year where the Gumbi faction retained the leadership of the province much to the dissatisfaction of the Matutu faction.
Barely a year later, Chamisa suspended the whole executive after realising that infighting and parallel structures were further weakening the party in the province.
Chamisa accused the Gumbi-led provincial executive of fermenting divisions in the province before ordering new elections in 11 of the party’s districts across the province.
The congress re-runs were ordered in Chiredzi East, Bikita South, Bikita West, Gutu North, Gutu Central, Gutu West, Mwenezi East, Masvingo North, Masvingo Central, Masvingo South and Masvingo Urban districts.
The district elections went on smoothly in seven districts but the atmosphere changed in three districts of Chiredzi East, Masvingo Urban, Bikita West and Masvingo North.
The elections were not held in Chiredzi East after the presiding officer is said to have failed to cross a flooded river and Masvingo North failed to vote after the Matutu faction protested against the election venue.
The Matutu faction is said to have won all the districts which were conducted but their victory could no longer be tolerated in Masvingo Urban and Bikita West.
There was violence in Masvingo Urban at the party’s provincial offices where former district chairperson Murangamwa Chanyau allegedly aligned to the Gumbi faction was seemingly losing to team Matutu.
Though MDC national organizing secretary Amos Chibaya had ordered supporters to desist from drinking beer during the voting process, drunk members allegedly aligned to Gumbi stormed the provincial offices and took the ballot boxes and destroyed them.
This led to a confrontation with those allegedly aligned to Matutu and the whole process was aborted. In Bikita West, violence also broke out after members allegedly aligned to Gumbi ran away with ballot boxes.
Chibaya told TellZim News that they are going to do re-runs in Masvingo Urban and Bikita West on a date to be announced.
“There were disturbances in in Masvingo Urban and Bikita West so we are going to do re-runs again on a date to be advised,” said Chibaya.
The suspended provincial chairperson Gumbi could not be drawn into comment but his rival Matutu told TellZim News that he was not after any position, adding that people must shun violence.
“All I want to see is democracy where people are freely allowed to exercise their voting rights without fear. The culture of violence in some of our people should be condemned.
“It is completely uncalled for to attack fellow members because they are participating in our internal democratic processes,” said Matutu.