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Double candidates: A sign of bigger problems for Chamisa’s party

By Rodrick Fayayo

There is so much excitement about the new Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) party, and the double allocations serve as early signs that there are things that the new party has to deal with if it is to last the mile.

Otherwise, it will suffocate from its potential.  While there is a celebration that out of 143 candidates there were only 3 cases of double candidates, a serious party with respect for its systems and processes would have avoided all that. 

To be sure the CCC party was under no obligation to carry out any process. They could have simply decided that all the recalled members of the party go back and become candidates. Cdes like (Alex) Magaisa actually wrote to advance a suggestion that the party should just confirm all the recalled candidates for standing with the party.   

But perhaps learning from the past that if you are a preferred candidate for the people in 2018 it does not necessarily mean that in 2022 you are still the preferred candidate, the party decided for an open process. Probably it was about testing their system in a smaller election as testing this in a harmonised election might have had serious challenges as shown.

The party went for an open process, and as is the norm with open processes some of the recalled cadres of the party fell. What is very instructive is the way the party then handled those falls. For the purposes of clarity, I will give examples. I choose to use 4 examples in Bulawayo for reasons that will be clear.

But before that, I delve into the signature arrangements.  I am informed by a number of party leaders that they were 4 party signatures submitted to ZEC. Charlton Hwende and Job Sikhala were the Harare signatories and Welshman Ncube and Siphiwe Ncube were the Bulawayo signatories. It seems as if the plan was to have Welsh and Siphiwe covering Matabeleland and then Hwende and Job to look at the other provinces.  However, all nomination papers were sent to Harare. From Harare, forms from Mat North and Mat South were not signed and the reasons can only be speculated. They were signed by the Bulawayo signatories. It was only Bulawayo that was signed by the Harare signatories.  That is why others are asking what interest Harare has in Bulawayo that is not there in other provinces.  Some have even suggested that it is about council tenders but we will deal with that in another piece.

So what happened in the concerned wards?

a)  In ward 26 my councillor Norman Hlabano did not even come to the party during the confirmation process. He was simply disinterested. And unsurprisingly a new candidate was nominated. However, when the signed nomination form came back from Harare it was his name that was in the signed form. No one knows what criteria Harare used to ignore all other processes and install Hlabano as the sole nominee. I am sure even Cllr Norman Hlabano himself was surprised.  

b)In ward 3 there was definitely going to be double candidates but the party was saved by the court processes. Officially my brother and friend Tinashe Kambarami had lost the nomination and at least one person nominated for the position. Again without any explanation when the nomination forms came back from Harare it was Kambarami who was the candidate. But also to ensure that he is covered after participating in a process and losing Kambarami decided that it was either going to be him or no one else. Wahle wapontshisa ibhora (he sabotaged the whole process). So he lives to fight another day. But sadly ward 3 remains without representation.

c)In Ward 14 Njube Mrs Lillian Mlilo only got her forms later. Someone who received the forms in Bulawayo from Harare decided to keep the forms and probably released them later under pressure. One would think that the idea was to try and change candidates again. The system was that flexible.

d) In Ward 9 my brother Themba Nyathi was never the nominee. And he is wrong to take advantage of the confusion. But the interesting fact of the matter is that the official party nominee Donaldson Mabutho was suspended from the party for giving out or selling party information.  Even when people raised these questions no one in the leadership was willing to listen. It says a lot about the security of the party. What however is very telling is his willingness and bravery as a council candidate to go to the press and say things about the Vice President of the party. Ordinarily, there is no difference between the office of the President and the office of the Vice President. If a mere council candidate, once suspended from the party for selling information about the party to Zanu PF, can raise those unsubstantiated allegations against a president it simply means that he either has the support of powerful people in the party or the organisation is free for all.

But the above seems to be miniatures of bigger systemic and process problems. I conclude that:

1) These seem to be imported problems. There are people that are loud in talking about devolution and yet in their bone marrow, they only know about centralisation. They only talk about it because it is fashionable.

2) 26 March 2022 has been said to be a dress rehearsal of 2023 for political parties. What is also clear is that internally in the CCC potential candidates are also aligning and strategically positioning themselves for 2023.  

3) While the political head of the party is strong, the strength is not matched by its administrative arm. A level headed, non-factional, non-tribal head of administration would have ensured that these unnecessary problems happen.

4) Clearly the leadership at the top level is not pulling in one direction. There is a lot of undermining each other. You can tell who is where based on the candidates. The impression given is that these are individual leaders candidates and not party candidates. Leaders are positioning themselves for control and resultantly the party is suffering.

5) The internal squabbles in the party are distracting it from focusing on the work that they are supposed to do ie fighting Zanu PF. Much time is being spent fighting themselves.  As it is for the next few weeks or months the focus will be on who was wrong? Who caused the double candidates, internal factions will realign and swords will be crossed.

6) The bigger picture should never be Local government or Parliamentary seats for our friends, it should be the Presidency. That is what is at stake. And for that, a cohesive unit is needed.

Given that 2023 is not very far it is important that the focus is on voter registration, building the party brand and stopping these infantile distractions.

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