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More problems for Mugabe

Augustine Mukaro/Loughty Dube

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe faces a dilemma on how to retain Zanu PF’s old guard in mainstream politics following the defeat of ministers

, party heavyweights and sitting MPs in the primary elections.

Some of the heavyweights who lost their bid to represent the ruling party in the March 29 elections have been Mugabe’s trusted lieutenants and have served in cabinet in different portfolios.

Political bigwigs that have been swept away by the tidal wave of change that seems to have characterised the ruling party’s primary elections include ministers Rugare Gumbo and Aeneas Chigwedere, deputy ministers David Chapfika and Kenneth Mutiwekuziva, and sitting MPs Claudius Makova, Isaiah Shumba and Marbel Mawere.

The defeated ministers had become Mugabe’s close allies, securing appointments to cabinet posts on two consecutives occasions.

Ministers defeated in primary polls have often been served by Mugabe’s patronage through appointments as non-constituency members.

However, that window was closed by Constitutional Amendment No 18, which declared that all the 210 House of Assembly seats should be contested. Presidential appointees would occupy only five senate seats.

There are also a number of disputed primary elections in the provinces where Zanu PF heavyweights were either accused of vote rigging or imposing candidates without going to primaries.

The objections and complaints, which have since been registered with the national election directorate have forced Mugabe to defer the nomination court to next Friday. The disputes have also left Zanu PF contemplating extending primary elections to allow reruns in the disputed constituencies.

Zanu-PF political commissar Elliot Manyika said primary elections were likely to be extended. The directorate has been inundated with complaints of alleged irregularities, all implicating political leadership of imposing candidates, resulting in party supporters besieging Zanu PF headquarters in Harare.

In Mutare a serious clash has erupted between Gender minister Oppah Muchinguri and Irene Zindi following the declaration of Sherlington Dumbura as the Zanu PF candidate for Mutare South. Zindi is accusing Muchinguri of misrepresenting facts and presenting Dumbura as a woman candidate to the party leadership.

“After the delimitation process, Muchinguri approached me expressing fears on her chances in the elections since her constituency now included an urban electorate,” Zindi said. “We agreed to swap the constituencies. Provincial leadership then met on January 3 to parcel out constituencies. We agreed that Mike Nyambuya, Oppah Muchinguri, Mandi Chimene and myself would go in unopposed.”

Zindi said after the meeting Muchinguri turned around to support Dumbura to challenge her in the constituency.

“In the primaries they robbed me,” Zindi said. “People voted at night only in two wards instead of six wards to which I refused to endorse the outcome and launched a complaint with the election directorate.”

“To make matters worse Muchinguri rushed to the directorate to misrepresent the facts saying that Dumbura was a woman.”

Zindi was yesterday waiting for the outcome of her appeal. Muchinguri could not be reached for comment.

Supporters from Mashonaland Central on Wednesday demonstrated at the ruling party headquarters and denounced the imposition of candidates and alleged declaration of candidates as uncontested when the directorate was preparing for primaries.

Supporters in Mashonaland West and Masvingo provinces have accused the provincial leadership of “ambush politics” in which some constituencies were announced as reserved for women just before the primary elections. Makonde MP Leo Mugabe who sought to become senator for Mhangura was shocked when he was told that the constituency had been reserved for a woman on the day of the primary. His immediate response was to file an appeal.

In Gutu South constituency in Masvingo, Dr Paul Chimedza, the former president of the Hospital Doctors Association who had reportedly bankrolled a multi-billion dollar bid for political office, suffered a major setback when he was informed that he could not contest in primary elections because the constituency was reserved for a woman.

The provincial elections directorate last Saturday (day of primaries) informed him that the long-serving and controversial politician, Shuvai Mahofa, could not be challenged in the primary elections.

Sources in the ruling party’s election directorate said the results that had not been made public this week included several shockers which the national elections directorate could turnaround through reruns.

Zanu PF primaries have been characterised by reports of outbreaks of violence in several areas.

In Bulawayo province, clashes forced the postponement of primary elections last Friday after rival factions clashed in protest over unfair selection criteria. Members aligned to war veterans’ leader Jabulani Sibanda protested against a move by a rival faction led by the Zanu-PF old-guard to bar them from contesting in the primaries.

The provincial party leadership was accused of imposing candidates and delaying announcing the list of contestants until shortly before the nomination court sits. It emerged that politburo member Sikhanyiso Ndlovu had been confirmed as the party candidate for Mpopoma constituency while Retired Colonel Tshinga Dube is the unopposed candidate in Makokoba constituency and Joshua Malinga is candidate for Bulawayo South.

Complaints were received in Matabeleland North where an aspiring candidate Retired Major Mark Mzulu Mbayiwa was barred from contesting against Industry and Trade minister, Obert Mpofu, over claims that his papers were submitted unprocedurally.

Mbayiwa has lodged a complaint with the party’s national directorate.

In Matabeleland South another aspiring candidate for Insiza, Charlton Siziba, has filed a High Court application seeking an interim order to nullify the result of the primary poll. Siziba was disqualified from contesting the primaries on the day of the polls.

In the court papers Siziba wants the High Court to interdict the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission from holding the nomination court for Insiza until the finalisation of his court case.

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