Zanu-PF stalwarts suffer in primaries

Old hands of the ruling party rejected by voters ahead of the national elections

06 May 2018 - 00:04 By RAY NDLOVU

The ruling Zanu-PF's politburo met yesterday in an attempt to defuse tensions following the party's primary elections last weekend to choose representatives for the elections, scheduled to take place in July or August.
Indications from party sources are that the politburo will call for a rerun of the primary elections in some of the hotly contested constituencies.
In one of those constituencies, Norton, 40km west of Harare, an ally of President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Christopher Mutsvangwa, was defeated. It signalled an inglorious end to a long political career.
Obert Mpofu, the Zanu-PF secretary for administration, said the politburo meeting was meant to "complete the exercise of party candidates".ELECTION MANIFESTO
So deep are the divisions in Zanu-PF over the results of the primary elections that on Friday it had to postpone the announcement of the final list of the winning candidates. The meeting was meant to be the official launch of its election campaign.
The announcement of the winners of the primary elections was meant to coincide with the official launch of Zanu-PF's election campaign and manifesto.
The election manifesto is dubbed "Unite, fight corruption, develop, re-engage, create jobs".
This week, senior party officials squared off in public and party members demonstrated at the party headquarters in Harare, threatening a protest vote, more popularly known as bhora musango.
The term refers to voting against your own party in the elections to spite the official Zanu-PF candidate.
Bhora musango resulted in Robert Mugabe losing the first round of voting in the 2008 elections against Morgan Tsvangirai.Mnangagwa said the events in Zanu-PF over the past few weeks were attempts to strengthen the country's internal democratic processes.
"Whatever teething problems, we have noted them closely, which is why we will not announce the final list [of candidates] today, since the politburo will be going through the challenges faced in the primaries," he said.
"We remain convinced that the democratic course is the correct one and we must not deviate from the step we took to strengthen our democratic systems. We must also guard against ulterior motives," Mnangagwa told about 3,500 delegates gathered at the official launch of the election campaign.
Mutsvangwa, a special adviser to Mnangagwa, has taken umbrage at his defeat in the primaries, and in a letter accused the party's national commissar, Engelbert Rugeje, of being a political novice. He also criticised the "shameful conduct" of the primary elections and alleged that these were supervised by the police.
"I reject the results of the just held Zanu-PF party polls in Norton ... The main reason is the unconstitutional use of the Zimbabwe republic police, a state agency, as the election agency.
"These policemen were principal players in uninhibited rigging as well as wholesale denial of the act of voting to legions of bona fide party members," the letter said.
"The new national commissar, while he is a comrade, lacks the party's institutional memory and failed to handle this issue well, leading to the disenfranchisement of thousands of party members countrywide.
"The political commissar relinquished his position as chief returning officer of the primary election to the police, who are supposed to be there to maintain law and order."The writing was on the wall that the primary elections would not be smooth after about 800 aspiring party candidates were last weekend turned away by the newly formed Zanu-PF national elections directorate that Rugeje heads. This prevented them from contesting the primaries. Rugeje did not respond to requests for comment.
Other political heavyweights who were casualties in the primary elections are the minister in the president's office responsible for national scholarships, Christopher Mushohwe; Zanu-PF deputy secretary for legal affairs Paul Mangwana; and the party's deputy secretary for youth affairs, Lewis Matutu.
Others include the minister for presidential affairs, Samuel Mumbengegwi; former deputy finance minister David Chapfika; Matabeleland South MP Andrew Langa; the minister of provincial affairs for Matabeleland South, Abednico Ncube; former lands minister Douglas Mombeshora; and former tourism minister Edgar Mbwembwe.
They alleged that irregularities, chaos and fraud had resulted in their defeats in the primary elections.
Political analyst Philani Moyo said the chaos that had characterised the Zanu-PF primary elections over the past week was merely a distraction and a sideshow.
"The focus should be on the number of people who turned up to vote per ward - those numbers say something about the party's mobilisation for the 2018 elections," he said...

There’s never been a more important time to support independent media.

From World War 1 to present-day cosmopolitan South Africa and beyond, the Sunday Times has been a pillar in covering the stories that matter to you.

For just R80 you can become a premium member (digital access) and support a publication that has played an important political and social role in South Africa for over a century of Sundays. You can cancel anytime.

Already subscribed? Sign in below.

Questions or problems? Email or call 0860 52 52 00.