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Zanu PF old guard seek ‘safe havens’

Augustine Mukaro

SERIOUS infighting has erupted in virtually all Zanu PF provinces as aspiring candidates scramble for constituencies in the inaugural joint elections ne

xt month.

Senior Zanu PF politicians are accused of using dirty tactics to block aspiring candidates challenging them in primary elections to stand as candidates. The jockeying for seats has sucked in senior politicians whose political survival has depended on President Robert Mugabe’s patronage. Mugabe has often rescued his favoured supporters through appointments in the event of losing elections. That will no longer be possible in the Lower House where all seats are now elective.

Prominent figures looking for “homes” include ministers Emmerson Mnangagwa, understood to have secured the newly created Chirumanzi-Zibagwe constituency, Paul Mangwana tipped for another new constituency in Zvishavane, Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, and Sithembiso Nyoni, among others. Mnangagwa was defeated twice in Kwekwe Central by MDC’s Blessing Chebundo.

The ruling party is scheduled to conclude its primary elections to choose senate and parliamentary candidates on Monday.

Reports from a number of provinces show that senior politicians are using the technicality of five years in provincial leadership requirement to sideline potential threats from contesting in primaries. There are also spirited efforts from the top leadership to block applications for waivers by emerging young turks who want to represent the ruling party. The development has prompted a number of local structures to write to the party’s national election directorate denouncing the imposition of candidates.

Sources in Zanu PF said already the election directorate is inundated with complaints and appeals from aspiring candidates citing irregularities in the way they were barred from contesting the primaries.

A classical example is in Manicaland where cabinet ministers Didymus Mutasa, Joseph Made and Patrick Chinamasa have ganged-up against former Finance Minister Simba Makoni, calling him a sell-out bent on destroying Zanu PF after he submitted his CV to challenge Chinamasa in Makoni Central.

The Zanu PF Makoni District Co-ordinating Committee in which the three ministers are all members met on January 3 and parcelled out parliamentary seats among themselves: Headlands for Mutasa, Makoni West for Made, Makoni East for former Central Intelligence Organisation boss Shadreck Chipanga, and Makoni Central for Chinamasa.

Mutasa and Chipanga’s declarations went in unopposed but Chinamasa and Made were challenged. Makoni’s CV is said to have been submitted in the middle of a meeting of the ruling party’s Manicaland Provincial Coordinating Committee that was processing the nomination papers while Made will have to battle it out with Nation Matongorere.

Makoni has been linked with an apparent break-away plot by disgruntled Zanu PF members opposed to President Robert Mugabe’s quest for a sixth term.

Chinamasa is one of the ministers in cabinet on Mugabe’s patronage and desperately needs a constituency to win if he entertains any hopes of being in the next government.

Other ministers from the same province that have to go into primaries include Oppa Muchinguri who is being challenged by Unice Mangwende, Munacho Mutezo faces Charles Muresherwa, Samuel Undenge is being challenged by Edmore Siwela while deputy minister Morison Sakabuya has to contain three other candidates: Alice Chitima, T Mlambo and R Mlambo in Chipinge Central.

War veteran vice chairman Joseph Chinotimba was one of the few candidates whose bid went in unopposed in Buhera South but there are serious contests in most of the constituencies.

Another interesting development was in Mashonaland Central where the provincial leadership declared that no politburo members could be challenged in their constituencies. The declaration, although not provided as part of the criteria for choosing candidates, has already given ministers Elliot Manyika, Chen Chimutengwende, Saviour
Kasukuwere and Nicholas Goche automatic tickets as Zanu PF candidates.

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