MDC Midlands has resolved to start conducting primary elections to choose party parliamentary candidates for 2023 elections as part of its strategy to wrest the rural vote from Zanu PF.

In the Midlands, the MDC has four MPs out of 28 constituencies. These are Settlement Chikwinya (Mbizo), Amos Chibaya (Mkoba), Brian Dube (Gweru Urban) and Livingston Chimina (Chiwundura).

Josiah Makombe, the MDC Midlands provincial chairperson, told Southern Eye on the sidelines of a district assembly meeting in Shurugwi recently that the exercise would kick-start shortly and in the next six months, the province targets to have finished conducting primary elections in constituencies where there is no sitting MP from the party.

“In the past, we have had cases where candidates are chosen just two weeks before election day. Those who will have lost in those elections or fail to qualify because of other reasons, in some instances would stand as parallel candidates, thereby costing the party by dividing the vote,” he said.

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“So in order to tackle that problem, we are soon going for primary elections so that by the time elections come in 2023 or any day, everyone will be clear and all sticking issues will have been resolved.”

In last year’s polls, MDC Midlands was affected by a divided vote after some of its members stood as independent candidates.Such developments were experienced in Shurugwi South and Vungu, where Edmund Mukaratigwa and Omega Sibanda, respectively, grabbed the seats for Zanu PF after MDC fielded dual candidates following disputes at primary elections shortly before the nomination court sat.

In Kwekwe Central, some MDC supporters cast protest votes against party candidate Blessing Chebundo, whom they accused of having been imposed.The development saw him losing to National Patriotic Front candidate Masango Matambanadzo, who had been sacked from Zanu PF.

Makombe said the primary elections would only be held in constituencies where the sitting MP is from Zanu PF.“We do not want to disturb our own sitting MPs, so the primary polls will only happen in areas where the current MP is from Zanu PF or any other party,” he said.

Makombe said going forward, the plan is to make inroads into the Zanu PF-dominated constituencies, which are mostly in rural areas.

“Once we choose our candidates, they should start working. It will be different from a situation where an aspiring candidate uses their resources only to be disappointed a few weeks before elections after losing at primary elections. We want our candidates to be clear,” he said.