Former education minister David Coltart has released a statement addressing why he was positioned on 6th position on the MDC Alliance Senatorial list for Bulawayo. This follows some reports that the MDC Alliance had effectively dumped Coltart by placing him on position six. Position six means that Coltart is unlikely to be elected unless the MDC Alliance sweeps all the National Assembly seats. Said Coltart,
I have been included on the MDC Alliance party list for the Senate in Bulawayo Province. As many know I was very graciously and generously offered a relatively safe National Assembly seat being Bulawayo East by the MDC Alliance which I declined to take up. Now equally graciously I have been included in the MDC Alliance’s party list for Bulawayo.
My reason for not taking up the National Assembly seat in Bulawayo East was because both my family and my law partners were concerned about such a move. In the 14 years, I was in Parliament between 2000 and 2013 both my family and law firm suffered from me not being around as a husband, father and senior partner respectively. Although a Senatorial seat is taxing, it does not hold the same demands as a National Assembly seat, in which some 30,000 constituents look to their MPs far more than they do Senators. In short, it was felt that I could better play my role as a husband, father and senior partner as a Senator.
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Senators are elected by means of proportional representation based on votes cast in the National Assembly elections. There are 6 seats on offer in every Province and the higher up the list one is, the greater the chance of being elected. Conversely, the lower down the list one is the less the chance of being elected. There is a further issue regarding the party list: to ensure gender equity, positions 1, 3 and 5 are reserved for females, with positions 2, 4 and 6 for males. One of the other understandings with my family, in particular, was that if my name appeared on the party list it should be lower down the list. The thinking behind this was that it was important to demonstrate solidarity with my colleagues in the MDC Alliance by standing but that we should leave the decision as to whether I should be elected to the good Lord. This is not meant to sound pious in any way – it is just so that if I was at the top of the list it would be rather like the Bulawayo East National Assembly seat – i.e. relatively easy to get elected. This way – ie making it hard – will convince us all that this is something our good Lord has in mind, not me manipulating my way back into Parliament.
So I am at the bottom of the list – number 6. This means that I will only be elected to the Senate if the MDC Alliance literally scores a landslide victory in Bulawayo. Given the massive contestation now underway that prospect is unlikely. Even though I am confident that the MDC Alliance will sweep all the National Assembly seats in Bulawayo it is unlikely we will secure the percentage of votes needed to secure all 6 Senatorial seats on offer.
I am comfortable with this and my family and law partners are happy with the compromise. I do hope however that the citizens of Bulawayo will give massive support to all MDC Alliance National Assembly candidates, which will be the only way to make the unlikely happen, namely my election to the Senate.