Moses Ziyambi/Sofia Mapuranga
The Citizen Coalition for Change (CCC) suffered major embarrassment in Masvingo Urban during the sitting of the nomination court on 21 June, with some party leaders being roughed up in public for alleged corrupting.
The fallout between candidates has sucked in party leader, Nelson Chamisa, whose relatives are alleged to have been imposed as nominees.
Jeffryson Chitando, a senior party leader in the province who was one of the party’s two signatories, was physically manhandled at the nomination court for allegedly helping his cronies to get nominated.
All CCC prospective local authority, provincial council, legislative and proportional representation candidates were asked to physically visit the nomination court as the party did not have a conclusive list prior to the sitting of the court.
Candidates came from different parts of the province but some of them, NewsHub observed, were riled when their preferred candidates did not appear on the nomination lists for parliament and council.
Some CCC members accused Chitando of being conflicted since his name appeared on the senatorial list yet he was a party signatory in the nomination process.
The other signatory was Margaret Chakabuda, who happened to be on top of the senatorial list.
Sources in the party say Chakabuda, Chitando and the party’s provincial administrator, Mandi Matutu, are in a faction aligned to former Zanu PF senior member Dzikamai Mavhaire.
The three allegedly manipulated the nomination process which saw many highly-regarded Masvingo Urban prospective local government candidates such as Roki Karimazonda (Ward 2), Admire Wakurawarehwa (Ward 8) and Thomas Mbetu (Ward 9) being overlooked.
Only three of the party’s seven sitting councillors were retained, and these include Ward 5’s Daniel Mberikunashe, who is Chamisa’s uncle.
As a result of the opaque nomination process in the party, Ward 2 ended up with two CCC candidates getting nominated, namely Frank Chirairo and Chantel Chiwara, while Karimazonda filed as an independent candidate.
Chantel is daughter to James Chiwara who was MDC-T Ward 3 Councillor and deputy mayor between 2013 and 2018.
Chiwara and Chamisa are related, and they both hail from Chiwara communal lands of Gutu South.
Party members also complained that Evans Chamisa, who is the CCC leader’s cousin, was nominated for a provincial council seat even though he did not have any notable history of service in the opposition.
Though Chitando could not be reached for comment, Chakabuda denied rigging.
She said the list of nominees came from Harare.
She dismissed claims of being conflicted, saying she was made a signatory long after she had submitted her name for the senatorial list.
We had no control
“It happens in all elections. There are people who feel aggrieved but we did not have any control over who would get nominated and who wouldn’t. We only got the list right at the nomination court and we did not have any prior knowledge of the candidates,” said Chakabuda.
She also said they were investigating the double candidature in Ward 2 and suggesting Chirairo could have forged signatures because it was only Chantel who appeared on the list from Harare.
Party insiders, however, say Chirairo amassed the most votes during the party’s much-maligned “Bereka Mwana” candidates selection process held on 17 June.
Karimazonda bitterly complained about Chantel’s candidature, and repeated widespread allegations that she got nominated irregularly because she was romantically involved with CCC national director of elections, Farai Chinobva.
When contacted for comment, Chinobva denied being in an intimate relationship with Chantel, and claimed that he did not even know her.
“My job does not involve deciding candidates. All that was handled by the appropriate offices and I don’t even know the woman you are talking about,” he said.
Chantel, though, admitted to knowing Chinobva but only at a “professional level”. She accused Chirairo of mudslinging.
“I am the party’s official candidate. Whatever they are saying about mujolo (sexual relationship) and all that is their story. Initially, my papers went missing and it’s Chirairo who had stolen them so that I would not get nominated. I had to do a last-minute rush to do other papers, and I was shocked to see him submitting his own papers too,” she said.
However, Chirairo insisted that he was nominated procedurally after his papers were signed by Chakabuda and Chitando.
“I got more votes than everybody else during our internal electoral processes. I was shocked to learn that somebody I had defeated by over 200 votes was getting nominated too. My own papers were signed procedurally and the evidence is there,” said Chirairo, a lawyer by profession.
Elsewhere, in Epworth, some of the contesting candidates allegedly bussed in supporters from outside the constituency and reportedly manipulated the open voting model whereby voters lined up behind their preferred candidates.
Carry the baby
The model is now commonly referred to as “Bereka Mwana”, a Shona term translating to “Carry the Baby on your Back”.
Some of the candidates were said to have wooed CCC voters with payouts varying from US$2 to US$10, in addition to 2kg packets of sugar, during the internal candidate selection process.
Batanai Masunda, Earthrage Kureva, Zivanai Mhetu and Felix Gosha were battling it out in the race to win a party ticket to contest the Epworth parliamentary seat in national elections to be held on 23 August 2023.
The winning parliamentary candidate, Mhetu, and another contestant, Kureva, reportedly bussed people in from outside Epworth to beef up their support.
Said a source in a recorded conversation: “Lorries and commuter omnibuses full of people who do not reside in Epworth offloaded voters in wards 6 and 7. These were their people and they came from Mbare.”
A rival in Epworth, Masunda insisted that there was bussing in of voters.
“It is true that people were bussed in from other areas but for me, it is now water under the bridge.
“It is also true that my colleagues literally instructed those who had lined up to vote for me to switch lines promising to give them money and rice. It’s politics. I am now working to support the winning candidate…and my president, Nelson Chamisa,” he said.
Kureva refuted the allegation that he bussed in voters and insisted that he was, actually, a victim of the Bereka Mwana voting system.
“I am the people’s darling in Epworth North. In Ward 6, I had the support of the masses where I got over 430 votes and I was convinced that I had won only to be outsmarted by my colleagues.
“My supporters are the ones who are now telling me that people were being coerced to switch queues for money. I am the victim here,” said Kureva.
“Bereka Mwana exposes citizens, especially as it can be manipulated by well-resourced politicians who, when they know that they are unpopular, may bribe voters.”