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Presidium backs Zanu PF ‘rebels’

THE turmoil which characterised last Friday’s nomination court has divided the Zanu PF presidium as members line-up their own candidates to position themselves for succession.

Ruling party insiders said Zanu PF bigwigs who openly defied President Robert Mugabe last Friday when they registered to stand as Zanu PF candidates in parliamentary and senatorial polls, despite having lost in primary elections, enjoyed backing from members of the presidium.

Mugabe last week presided over a politburo meeting that approved Zanu PF candidates for the joint elections for the senate and parliament to run concurrently with elections for president.

Insiders said some of the candidates who had lost hope following their defeat in primaries got instructions from members of the presidium to file their papers, clearly showing that even the presidium meeting earlier in the week had failed to resolve differences over candidates.

One insider said in the case of Finance minister Samuel Mumbengegwi who registered as a Zanu-PF candidate for the Chivi/Mwenezi Senate seat and acting chief executive of the Zimbabwe Football Association, Henrietta Rushwaya, they had to hurriedly put their papers together and rush to Masvingo before the closure of the nomination court.

“Rushwaya left the capital well after midday on Friday,” the insider said. “She had received a call questioning why she was not in Masvingo to submit her papers.”

Most of the candidates who filed their papers without being declared Zanu PF official candidates have been linked to the Mujuru faction. The development has stirred speculation that while they stand as Zanu-PF candidates they could be Simba Makoni’s silent partners.

When Makoni, announced he would challenge Mugabe as an independent candidate, supported by other Zanu PF bigwigs speculation ran high that he enjoys the backing of retired army general, Solomon Mujuru.

There is also speculation that presidium members want to ensure as many of their supporters are elected into parliament so that in the event of Mugabe deciding to leave before the end of his term they could be well-placed to succeed.

Disgruntlement in the ruling party is again manifest in the unprecedented number of aspiring candidates and independents who have registered to participate in the elections, forcing the nomination court to stay open until late into the evening.

The largest number of independent candidates has been registered in Manicaland and Masvingo.

Zanu PF this week tried to defuse the growing discontent in the party when it announced that it would revert to primaries in constituencies where more than one candidate filed papers representing the party.

The chairman of the party’s national elections directorate Elliot Manyika said the primaries would ensure that only one candidate contests on a Zanu PF ticket.

Those who filed their papers for nomination include Finance Minister Samuel Mumbengegwi, Senator Dzikamai Mavhaire and Eddison Zvobgo Jnr.

Mumbengegwi will clash with the Mugabe nominee, former Masvingo governor Josiah Hungwe. Mavhaire — distinguished in being the first party member, 11 years ago, to call on Mugabe to retire — will challenge another Zanu PF official candidate, Maina Mandava.

Zvobgo will stand against businessman and party appointee Edmund Mhere. Henrietta Rushwaya is mounting a challenge against the long-serving and controversial politician Shuvai Mahofa for the Gutu South constituency.

In Manicaland’s Makoni West, Nation Madongorere — a former Central Intelligence Organisation operative — registered as a Zanu-PF candidate although the party had endorsed Agricultural Engineering minister Joseph Made as the official party candidate.

Augustine Mukaro/Loughty Dube

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