Zanu PF begs rebels to withdraw

A high-powered Zanu PF delegation has begged party “rebels” to withdraw from contesting as independents in the general elections and support party-endorsed candidates who won primaries despite widespread complaints of rigging and voting irregularities, it has emerged.

Report by Brian Chitemba

The team led by the party’s secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa, director of the commissariat department Retired Air Vice- Marshal Henry Muchena and officials from the President’s Office have since met Daniel Garwe (Murehwa North), Marian Chombo (Zvimba North) and prominent lawyer Jonathan Samkange (Mudzi South) to ask them to withdraw from parliamentary polls. Sources said the candidates refused to bow to pressure and insisted that they will contest the polls as independents.

In Bikita West, businessman Munyaradzi Kereke, who was expelled from the party on Wednesday by the politburo, will run as an independent against the party’s preferred Elias Musakwa.

The meetings were prompted by President Robert Mugabe’s appeal while addressing Zanu PF’s central committee last week that party members should do all they can to convince those who lost primaries to support those who won. Some of the problems which characterised the primaries included controversial disqualifications, re-admissions through the backdoor, imposition of candidates, poor logistics, shortage of ballot papers, attempts to run-away with ballot boxes, delayed announcement of results and allegations of rigging.

Zvimba North parliamentary candidate Marian Chombo was adamant she would contest the July 31 elections as an independent against her ex-husband Ignatius Chombo, Local Government minister. Marian, told the Zimbabwe Independent this week that her ex-husband was employing underhand tactics to frustrate her by holding rallies about 100 metres away from hers.

“Zvimba North constituency asked me to stand as an independent candidate but if I win the elections I will hand the seat to Zanu PF,” said Marian. “If Chombo is allowed to go it alone against an MDC-T candidate, the seat will be lost. I am campaigning for President Mugabe and I am positive I will win the seat. Marian also revealed that her ex-husband had demanded that she stops using the Chombo surname but she insisted she was still a Chombo by marriage.

“Chombo has been threatening my supporters that they will lose their farms if they don’t vote for him. But I am convincing voters that their vote is their secret and they should not be intimidated into voting for a candidate who never visited the constituency since 2008.”