Provincial battle: Joice Mujuru secures Mugabe intervention

VICE-PRESIDENT Joice Mujuru pleaded with President Robert Mugabe to postpone the provincial elections in seven out of 10 provinces, citing allegations of vote-buying allegedly by her arch-rival Justice, Parliamentary and Legal Affairs minister Emmerson Mnangagwa’s faction, it has emerged.

Brian Chitemba

Government sources said Mujuru’s camp, which is in a long-running battle with the Mnangagwa faction to succeed Mugabe, allegedly unearthed a vote-buying spree around the provinces last week, prompting Mujuru to seek an urgent meeting with Mugabe last Thursday.

During the emergency meeting, Mujuru is said to have told Mugabe the Mnangagwa faction “was using money to entice voters in the provinces” to influence the outcome of the provincial executive elections which were supposed to be held last Saturday.

After Mujuru successfully lobbied Mugabe, it was agreed elections could be held in Manicaland and the Midlands, where chaotic scenes engulfed the internal polls which saw results being delayed by five days.

“Mujuru alleged that her rival, Mnangagwa’s faction, was vote-buying and asked Mugabe to postpone the elections until a later date when the chaos around the provinces had been resolved,” said the source.

“There was commotion in the provinces as factions were fighting for space to make sure their allies win influential posts ahead of the elective congress next year.”

Mujuru influenced the dissolution of district co-ordinating committees (DCCs) after alleging the Mnangagwa camp was fuelling intra-party divisions. This was after the Mnangagwa camp had reportedly won most of the DCCs, paving the way for him to take control of the provinces.

Mnangagwa supervised provincial elections in Manicaland where his close ally Chimanimani senator Monica Mutsvangwa withdrew from the race against John Mvundura citing irregularities.

In the Midlands, Mujuru’s ally Jason Machaya contested against vice-chairperson Larry Mavima where elections were delayed by several hours due to logistical problems.

Provincial elections were supposed to be held in Mashonaland West — Mugabe’s home province — but were moved after allegations of vote-buying.

Those interested in the influential chairmanship include Mujuru’s ally and businessman Temba Mliswa, war veteran Blessing Geza Runesu, businessman Phillip Chiyangwa, John Mafa and Colonel Beta Guveya.

The fight between Mujuru and Mnangagwa has intensified ahead of the provincial executive elections because the structures will play a pivotal role in choosing members of the presidium at the December 2014 elective congress. A candidate for any of the presidium posts — president, two vice-presidents and chairperson — needs the endorsement of six out of the 10 provinces to win.

The Mnangagwa faction is eyeing seven provinces, which will ensure the minister is nominated first vice-president ahead of Mujuru at the 2014 congress. That would ensure he takes over from Mugabe who is unlikely to contest the 2018 elections due to old age and poor health.