THE ruling Zanu PFâ€™s efforts to conceal divisions in the party collapsed this week as bigwigs who defied President Robert Mugabe and filed their papers to stand as Zanu PF candidates along with official candidates refused to withdraw from the elections.
This week the partyâ€™s leadership sent out high-powered delegations to provinces to convince a number of seasoned Zanu PF politicians who filed their nomination papers to stand as candidates in the parliamentary and senatorial polls to withdraw their candidacies.
Ruling party sources said the biggest delegation led by the partyâ€™s secretary for administration, Didymus Mutasa, descended on Masvingo to try and convince the renegades to withdraw from the elections.
Masvingo has the highest number of candidates who filed papers, challenging Zanu PFâ€™s official candidates.
Notable figures that filed their papers for nomination included Finance Minister Samuel Mumbengegwi, Senator Dzikamai Mavhaire, Eddison Zvobgo (Jnr) and Henrietta Rushwaya.
Mumbengegwi, however, on Wednesday lost the partyâ€™s primary election re-run to former Masvingo governor Josaya Hungwe but is again disputing the result, indicating that he might not withdraw his nomination papers from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.
Mavhaire is still challenging Zanu PF official candidate Maina Mandava, while Zvobgo will stand against businessman and party appointee Edmund Mhere.
However, the Zanu PF leadership has managed to persuade political minnows Rushwaya and Sabina Mangwende to withdraw their candidature from Gutu South and Glen View constituencies respectively.
A number of the candidates who spoke to the Zimbabwe Independent confirmed that they either received a letter or were approached by senior Zanu PF officials and told to withdraw their candidacy.
They said they were not going to withdraw because the electorate wanted them to contest the elections.
In Manicalandâ€™s Makoni West, the Zanu PF elections directorate wrote to Nation Madongorere, a former Central Intelligence Organisation operative, to withdraw from the parliamentary race in favour of Agricultural Engineering minister Joseph Made.
â€œI have received a call from provincial chairman Tinaye Chigudu saying that he has a letter from the elections directorate persuading me to withdraw and pave way for Made,â€ Madongorere said in an interview.
â€œIn the run-up to the primaries I was given a similar letter, but I turned it down in the same way I will refuse this initiative.â€
Matongorere said he would not step down because he was chosen by the people to represent them.
â€œPeople of Makoni West invited me and I accepted it,â€ he said.
â€œI submitted my CV as required which the presidium approved before going to primaries which I won so why would they want me to step down now?â€
Traditional chiefs in the area support Madongorere.
Five chiefs from the constituency besieged Zanu PF headquarters questioning why the leadership wanted to impose a candidate on them.
In Masvingoâ€™s Gutu South, seven traditional leaders from the constituency last week confronted the Zanu PF presidium over the controversial candidature of Shuvai Mahofa in the forthcoming parliamentary elections.
The chiefs said Mahofa, who sat in previous parliaments since 1985, had lost support in the constituency.
Chiefs Makore, Mukaro, Chiwara and Majada, as well as headmen Maungwa, Shenjere and Makore travelled to Harare last week to hand a petition to President Robert Mugabe at State House.
They demanded that Mahofa be dropped from the race.
â€œWe, the undersigned traditional leaders, hereby ask your office to bar former Gutu south legislator Shuvai Mahofa from representing the party in the forthcoming elections,â€ read the petition.
â€œMahofa has overstayed in this position as MP but she has done nothing to develop the area. She has lost touch with the electorate and we appeal to your office to give us another candidate in Gutu South.â€
However, the party upheld Mahofaâ€™s victory in the Gutu South primary elections and has since succeeded in persuading Rushwaya to withdraw her nomination.
The partyâ€™s elections directorate chairperson Elliot Manyika this week said Zanu PF was working â€œtirelesslyâ€ to end double nominations throughout the country.