The independent Election Management Body that conducted MDC-T’s provincial presidential nomination election in Bulawayo last week declared interim party leader Thokozani Khupe the winner, despite reports that she had been trounced by organising secretary Abednico Bhebhe.
MDC-T is due to hold its extraordinary congress in November after the Supreme Court ruled that it must revert to its 2014 structures and elect a substantive leader to solve its leadership dispute.
The nominations are part of that roadmap towards the extraordinary congress.
Media reports claimed Bhebhe had polled 170 votes, followed by Khupe who received 35 votes while interim secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora got 7 votes.
In an interview with CITE, the Election Management Consultant who conducted the MDC-T nomination poll, Reverend Anglistone Sibanda said Khupe received 59 votes out of 122 votes cast, making her the province’s presidential choice.
The other contestants were Elias Mudzuri who had zero votes, Komichi Morgan also zero votes, Gift Chimanikire received one vote, Douglas Mwonzora – 15 votes and Abednigo Bhebhe who polled 45 votes.
“Suffice to say that the social media was awash with stories of results and false figures. We want to announce that fictitious people not in the voters roll tried to force their way into the MDC-T nomination,” he said,
Sibanda highlighted he was the elections management consultant after he was ‘agreed to’ by the party’s standing committee and all the candidates who partook in the election,
He alleged members of the MDC Alliance tried to rig and participate in a MDC-T election process.
The outsiders, according to Sibanda, were notable people recalled by MDC-T and no longer party members.
“These were Dorcas Sibanda (former Bulawayo Central MP), Ernest Rafamoyo (former ward 20 councillor) and Tinashe Kambarami (former Ward 3 councillor). Rafamoyo’s wife tried to rig, showing us a name in a list that did not exist,” he claimed.
“The MDC Alliance Nketa youth chairperson, Benny Hlatywayo was a nuisance, trying to cause violence and had to be ejected by security. We don’t know who they wanted to vote for but we are giving you facts. We had to repeat accreditation twice as these people forced their way until the gate at the venue was pulled down leading to skirmishes of violence.”
Contacted for comment MDC Alliance Bulawayo’s Provincial Spokesperson, Swithern Chirowodza, said he was aware of allegations made against Sibanda, Rafamoyo and Kambarami but insisted they were full delegates of the 2014 MDC-T structures.
“These were members of the MDC-T in 2014 and according to the Supreme Court ruling are full delegates but what is happening is they were recalled for self preservation by Mwonzora and Khupe. They were removed from public office so that they cannot claim to be part of MDC-T structures, which in itself is rigging by Mwonzora and Khupe,” he said.
“Take Rafamoyo in 2014 he was the district chairperson but was recalled so he could be incapacitated from voting. Sibanda was the vice provincial chair at that time but was barred from voting. Barring them is rigging.”
Chirowodza accused Mwonzora and Khupe of wanting to rig themselves to the top, alleging they had instructed their national council to limit the number of candidates who were to take part in the extraordinary congress.
“They are doing this to stop Bhebhe who apparently won the votes in Bulawayo and is a favourite in Matabeleland provinces. They saw the nomination elections will go Bhebhe’s way if he continues. Even Mudzuri who is not an MDC Alliance member tweeted that the elections were not free and fair,” said the MDC Alliance provincial spokesperson.
MDC-T’s elections consultant dismissed as false, allegations that many people were disenfranchised from voting.
“Everyone who was eligible to vote did present themselves and was allowed. But because of the skirmishes, we found ourselves having a discrepancy of an excess of six votes. When tallying we found out that two were spoilt ballots, leaving an excess of four votes. In any case these were below the five percent margin of error,” he said.
He added that secondly those four votes were inconsequential because even if Khupe were to donate them to the losing candidates, she still remained the winner.
“The discrepancy of four votes does not change the election outcome and after the voting process, as the elections management body we made recommendations to MDC-T for consideration. The party’s national council may consider these in their upcoming meeting this Saturday,” said the elections consultant.