Dumisani Muleya/Charlene Ambali
ANGRY supporters of President Robert Mugabe’s nephew Leo Mugabe severely assaulted a rival candidate’s campaign manager following Zanu PF’s primary polls for the forthcoming M
akonde by-election in Chinhoyi last week.
Zanu PF sources said Leo Mugabe’s supporters – who apparently included his sons – ganged up to attack Virginia Katyamaedza, a Zanu PF central committee member, for allegedly switching her loyalty in the middle of the campaign from the former Zimbabwe Football Association chair to his rival, Artwell Seremane.
The sources said Mugabe had given Katyamaedza – who is his mother’s younger sister – a cellular phone and money at the beginning of the campaign for her to drum up support for him but she later abandoned him.
The sources said this angered Mugabe after his defeat by Kindness Paradza, the eventual winner of the heated primary race, and precipitated the attack.
“Leo was angered by Katyamenza’s shift of support to Seremane and he dispatched his supporters to recover the cellphone he had given her,” a source said.
“But she refused to return the phone, saying a lot of other people had been bribed and Leo’s supporters brutally assaulted her. She was taken in an ambulance to the police where the assailants were later fined.”
Sources said Katyamaedza was also fined because she attacked her assailants in retaliation in front of the police. The poll was marred by serious electoral irregularities such as bribery, treating and coercion, it is claimed.
“It was one of the most fraudulent elections that I have ever seen,” a senior Zanu PF official said. “You can’t even get angry but just laugh about it. Most of the votes were manufactured in hotels. It was blatant rigging and corruption. In Chigari district for example, 26 people voted but the votes during counting ended up being 114 when only 105 people were entitled to vote.”
Sources said voters were made to write down their names and indicate who they had voted for. “The-re was no secret ballot. It was unconstitutional and worse than the old system of queuing behind your candidate,” a source said.
Zanu PF Mashonaland West provincial chair Philip Chiyangwa confirmed the clashes but could not give details, saying the issue was under investigation.
“I can confirm the incident happened but it would be inappropriate for me as chairman of the province to comment on a matter which is currently under investigation,” he said. “Mrs Katyamaedza phoned me about it and I now have evidence that the people who attacked her had been fined by the police.”
Chiyangwa said the matter was now being handled by the provincial disciplinary chair John Mafa who is also his deputy.
“I’m also informed senior party members were paid money to facilitate the election of certain candidates and that is also under investigation,” Chiyangwa said. “The matter will certainly be dealt with.”
Contacted for comment Leo Mugabe said he had heard about the incident but denied accusations that his sons and campaign manager Robert Sikhanyika were involved in the attack.
Paradza, former Financial Gazette journalist-turned-politician, romped to victory with 883 votes. Mugabe won 435 votes, Seremane 273, Douglas Mombeshora, the brother of late Makonde MP Swithun Mombeshora, 41, while another candidate, Lahliwe Murefu, garnered only 14.
Paradza was apparently backed by Chiyangwa, Mugabe was supported by his mother and MP for Zvimba North, Sabina, while Murefu was supported by Zanu PF heavyweight and Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo and deputy Speaker of Parliament Edna Madzongwe.