THE decision-making Zanu PF politburo has rejected an ambush proposal by the party’s commissariat department to hold potentially-explosive primary polls next month to clear the path for crucial general elections next year.
Report by Faith Zaba
Senior Zanu PF officials told the Zimbabwe Independent last night the politburo, at a meeting yesterday, rejected secretary for commissariat Webster Shamu’s proposal for primaries next month after the Second All-Stakeholders’ Conference on the contentious new constitution.
“The issue was tabled from the blue, but it had no takers because of the short notice, lack of rules, regulations and acceptable timeframes. Most members felt it was like putting the cart before the horse,” a senior politburo member said.
“It was like an ambush and such things invite suspicions. It’s as if there are people with hidden agendas. The prematurity of the proposal was palpable.”
Politburo officials said primaries could not be announced as if they were a “football tournament” when they are a political process.
“Some people were wondering whether that is why some of our colleagues were already running around when official campaigns for primaries have not yet started and when it’s clearly not allowed,” the official said.
Another official said the proposal smacked of a “veiled factional agenda” because it was mainly known by leaders of the camp led by Vice-President Joice Mujuru and not those aligned to Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa.
The two factions are battling to outmanoeuvre each other and gain ground in a bid to produce a successor to President Robert Mugabe. As reported in the Independent two weeks ago, Mnangagwa’s faction received a boost after Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander General Constantine Chiwenga insinuated at the minister’s birthday
party on September 15, at Sherwood farm on the outskirts of Kwekwe, he backed Mujuru’s rival.
Even though the Mnangagwa faction seems to be on the ascendancy, it was recently stopped in its tracks after walloping the Mujuru camp in the chaotic and acrimonious internal district co-ordinating committee elections (DCCs).
The DCC polls were marred by infighting linked to succession power struggles, intimidation and vote-rigging. This led to disbanding of the critical structures, a move which has left those affected consumed with bitterness.
“The primaries proposal was not going to fly because it was driven by a factional agenda. The Mujuru faction wanted to ambush the Mnangagwa group so that it can win the primaries and produce most of the candidates for parliamentary polls,” an official said.
“Their manoeuvre was however blocked because primaries have to be done properly, not as a strategy of waylaying rivals to fulfil some succession calculus.”
Besides primaries, the politburo also discussed the second all-stakeholders’ conference on the new constitution and using 99-year leases on land as collateral, among other issues.
Zanu PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo confirmed the issues were discussed, but could not give details.
“Shamu presented a commissariat report and it was agreed that there was need to intensify mobilisation ahead of elections and the referendum,” Gumbo said.
Gumbo said the party would soon decide dates for the party’s primary elections, but was reluctant to explain further.
“All I can say is that there are indications or suggestions that we hold the primaries in November,” he said before the politburo meeting. After the meeting he was reluctant to comment on the issue.
The central committee meets today, but the issue of primaries is unlikely to be adopted.
Politburo insiders said the Mujuru faction wanted primaries next month to wrong-foot the Mnangagwa camp.
“We are already preparing for primary elections ahead of elections next year,” one official said. “But Mnangagwa, who is legal affairs secretary, is yet to come up with the rules and guidelines for primaries.”
Sources said Mnangagwa was however not in the politburo when primaries were discussed, almost confirming the ambush plot.
Gumbo said the politburo also tackled the second all-stakeholders’ conference.
“We discussed the way forward on the all-stakeholders’ meeting and agreed that we will push for our amendments to be included in the draft. This we will do in the thematic committee meetings and I believe we will get our way because it will be very difficult for them to ignore our amendments because they are in line with the national statistical report.”
Dr Hope Sadza and Professor Phinias Makhurane, the two civil society representatives in the Copac steering committee, will chair the plenary session at the conference.
Gumbo said the Zanu PF central committee would discuss issues related to the all-stakeholders’ conference, referendum and elections.