PERSISTENT divisions in the Zanu PF Bulawayo branch last week forced the party’s national commissar Elliot Manyika to handpick the provincial executive after feuding camps f
ailed to agree on candidates.
The Bulawayo province has been led by an acting chairman since former chairman Jabulani Sibanda was suspended from his position on allegations of indiscipline.
Party sources said district members could not agree on which candidates to put forward for election, forcing Manyika to appoint an interim executive.
The executive will however relinquish power at the end of January when fresh elections are expected to be held.
Party sources who attended the meeting last Wednesday said sharp divisions over the ouster of Sibanda forced Manyika to handpick members to positions of power without elections being held. Sibanda was exonerated of wrong-doing at a central committee meeting last month. However, Manyika this week denied that elections were abandoned in Bulawayo as a result of divisions within the party. He said the restructuring exercise was not yet complete at district level.
“There are no divisions that I know of as the party’s national political commissar but we handpicked people into the executive because the party is still restructuring its districts. Until that is done there will be no provincial elections,” Manyika said.
Zanu PF is restructuring its provincial structures ahead of the party’s conference where the issue of President Mugabe’s successor is likely to come up for discussion.
Bulawayo is the only province so far where a handpicked interim Zanu PF executive has been put in office. Elections have been held in the majority of provinces throughout the country.
Party members who attended the meeting said Sibanda vowed to contest the chairman’s position while other senior party members who pushed for his suspension from the party feared that he would wrestle the position back from any challenger.
“The idea of handpicking members was a way by party leaders of wielding their power against Sibanda because they know Sibanda is still very popular in the province and in any case he would have won any position if elections were held,” said a party source.
Bulawayo businessman and the party’s central committee member, Abednigo Nyathi, was elected interim chairman while former chairman Edson Ncube was appointed as deputy chairman.
Silas Dlomo was chosen as secretary for administration while other members of the executive are Michael Batandi Mpofu, Raphael Baleni and Elliot Ndlovu.
Bulawayo has been rocked by leadership divisions that have seen numerous executive members forced out of office.
Squabbles have led to the emergence of camps backed by senior provincial leaders seeking control of the province.