ZANU PF’s chaotic infighting in Bulawayo has intensified after elections in the province for a substantive chairperson scheduled for last Saturday were postponed indefinitely following bitter clashes among party bigwigs seeking to influence the poll outcome.
Report by Brian Chitemba
The failure further proves the party is facing extinction in the city as its fortunes continue to plummet in the province.
During the 2008 elections Zanu PF failed to garner a single seat in Bulawayo, making it the only province where it was whitewashed.
President Robert Mugabe got zero votes in some polling stations in Bulawayo during the 2008 elections.
Zanu PF’s abject performance in Bulawayo has been a recurring theme dating back to when the city was a PF Zapu stronghold. The town was also reprised during the MDC’s pre-split heyday and even after the party was torn into two formations — MDC-T and MDC-N.
The party has repeatedly failed to hold elections as intense factionalism continues to divide its dwindling support.
Bulawayo has over the years been the epicenter of discontent against Zanu PF rule with its populace complaining about marginalisation. This has been exacerbated by the perennial water problems, the Gukurahundi massacres in which about 20 000 people were killed in Matabeleland and Midlands provinces, and deindustrialisation, among others.
The province has been pushing for devolution of power during the current constitution-making exercise along with the rest of Matabeleland, a move being resisted mainly by Zanu PF as a step towards secession.
While the latest poll was shelved due to serious infighting, the party deflected attention by announcing the postponement was caused by the death of party provincial secretary for legal affairs Josiah Thwala in an accident two days earlier.
However, provincial sources said the fight between politburo members Sikhanyiso Ndlovu and Angeline Masuku was to blame as accreditation for Zanu PF’s annual conference went ahead last Sunday.
Politburo members Webster Shamu, Francis Nhema, David Chapfika, Jabulani Mangena, Cephas Msipa, Tendai Savanhu and Edward Chataita descended on Bulawayo on Friday to oversee the elections on Saturday, but failed to solve the long-running feud in the province.
Shamu has made several attempts to end infighting in Bulawayo but in vain.
Sources said the elections were first thrown into doubt last Thursday night following a clash between Bulawayo politburo and central committee members, including Ndlovu, Masuku, Fidelia Maphosa and Raphael Baleni during a meeting to prepare for the poll.
The stalemate resulted in the decision to indefinitely shelve elections.
Masuku and her allies were said to be pushing for the election of Simon Khabo for the provincial chairmanship while Ndlovu and associates preferred former chairperson Isaac Dakamela who was suspended earlier this year for allegedly bringing the party into disrepute.
Acting provincial chairperson Killian Sibanda does not enjoy the support of party heavyweights but the grassroots members are reportedly rallying behind him.
In Matabeleland North, election results were delayed by four days but Mines minister Obert Mpofu’s ally Richard Moyo from Umguza district beat party chairman Simon Khaya Moyo’s ally, Patrick Utete.