THE opposition Citizens’ Coalition for Change which had promised to roll out names of nominees on 11 April says it is still vetting the nominated candidates and is urging people who are querying the speed of the candidate selection process to be patient and allow the party to complete the exercise.
The party’s deputy spokesperson Gift Siziba addressed a Press briefing on Thursday in Harare and made the clarification after a social media onslaught on the candidate selection process from critics and party sympathisers who felt the exercise was taking too long.
“Allow us to finish our process and we announce publicly the successful people; we can confirm whether we have areas where we do not have candidates or we have. The residue that we have and the process that was happening over the weekend was the vetting of more than 25 000 people who were nominated for councillor, members of Parliament from across the country. And these are the people who are going to go for caucuses after which we are going to have them being announced as candidates,” said Siziba.
The candidate selection process is in four parts: nomination which happened on 5 April 2023; candidate acceptance confirmation where nominated candidates where supposed to accept the nomination; candidate vetting, announcement of candidates that would have passed the vetting stage; then move to consensus-building caucuses before the official announcement of victorious candidates.
Prominent journalist Hopewell Chin’ono put out a circular reportedly coming from the CCC that was appealing for the finding of candidates in rural constituencies, but the party says these are false allegations.
“It is absolutely not true, it is absolutely trying to create an impression that the citizens’ movement has not spread its tentacles across the country. We are happy with the overwhelming subscription we have even challenged for avoidance of doubt those who say the specific area to say give us just a single ward for avoidance of confusion we give you the number of candidates. You know that there was an example of Chimanimani, we have more than six candidates that were nominated and more than 20 councillors for the few wards that are there who are going to go to the next stage, so we are happy we have candidates all over the country which are being vetted. We are expecting that once the caucuses are over, we announce the candidates and prove beyond any doubt that there are challenges in terms of candidates,” said Siziba.
Zimbabwe’s political landscape has always made it difficult for rural folk to openly declare that they support opposition.
In January 2023, elderly people convened a meeting in Murewa and were beaten by suspected Zanu PF youths and had to be evacuated to Harare for treatment.
An arrest was made, but the victims of the violent attack say they were not the actual perpetrators of violence.
During the build-up to the 26 March 2022 by-election, a CCC supporter, Mboneni Ncube, died at the hands of Zanu PF youths who violently disrupted the opposition party’s rally.
It is against this background that people in rural areas are not confident of openly coming out as opposition activists.
To date, only nominations for Harare West which were announced at the initial Press conference have been made public, but everything else is being kept under wraps.
The nomination process was hit by confusion and chaos, with some candidates crying foul, but Siziba said those who fail the vetting test would have an opportunity to approach the appeals committee.
At the same Press briefing, Siziba responded to the vetting-form clause that spoke of allegiance to God, saying there was nothing amiss about the provision.
“The rest of the provisions were imported from the existing laws in our country, the constitution, the Electoral Act and other protocol manuals that govern the politics of our country,” he said.
“We have not received any challenges from the particular individuals who have been vetted who know and understand . . . Let me make it very clear for avoidance of doubt and confusion that the misinterpretation of our vetting template to try and make us look like people who do not believe in freedom of conscience is wrong because in our movement we solely believe and protect the freedoms of people and part of those freedoms is religion,” said Siziba.