ZANU PF factional leaders Vice-President Joice Mujuru and Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa last week squared off for the first time in the politburo and central committee meetings in front of President Robert Mugabe as the fight to control provincial executives reaches boiling point.
Faith Zaba/Elias Mambo
Gloves were off in the politburo meeting last week on Thursday as Mnangagwa and Mujuru openly traded bitter accusations and counter-accusations of candidate imposition, vote-buying and manipulation of provincial election results in the Midlands and Manicaland provinces.
Mnangagwa complained about shady electoral processes during the provincial elections in the Midlands and Manicaland, and the conduct of poll campaigns in the remaining seven provinces.
This came after Mujuru suggested Zanu PF adopts what she described as “guided democracy”, a motion vehemently shot down by central committee members aligned to the Mnangagwa faction.
“Mnangagwa, who normally speaks through his proxies, for the first time spoke out in both the politburo and central committee against the goings-on in the provincial elections,” said a senior party official.
“Mai Mujuru complained to President Mugabe that she was tired of people who are over-ambitious showing scant respect for the party leadership. She even went further to warn the president that if he is not careful the same people will end up targeting his post.”
The source added: “Mai Mujuru then said we must now have guided democracy because of people who don’t respect the leadership, whom she labelled as rebels.”
In a separate interview, another politburo member said Mujuru in her presentation tried to defend election results in Manicaland and Midlands, where her allies triumphed.
“In the politburo she (Mujuru) proposed that the remaining elections be held province by province to which Mnangagwa and Information minister (Jonathan) Moyo objected. The two spoke strongly about the need to respect the values of the liberation struggle. They said we went to war for democracy,” said the party insider.
The source also said: “Mnangagwa took the argument to the Central Committee where he pointed out that every member has the right to be elected to any office using the party constitution. He argued that as a party we must be seen to be exercising that right and we must also be seen to be a democratic party — a point which he and Moyo also made in the politburo meeting the previous day.”
After failing to agree on the way forward in the politburo, the disputes in Midlands and Manicaland were referred to the party’s highest decision-making body outside congress, the Central Committee, where Mugabe castigated party leaders for pursuing selfish interests.
“It’s not the views of the politburo that should prevail but the interpretation of the party’s constitution by the politburo. We are the ones destroying the party,” Mugabe said.
“People must vote according to the wishes of the party and not according to the wishes of individual leaders. And so, when we look at how the politburo conducted the provincial elections in Manicaland and the Midlands provinces, the Central Committee is entitled to point out where mistakes were made and insist on the correction of those mistakes.”
Zanu PF has had to postpone elections in Mashonaland West, Mashonaland East, Masvingo, Harare, Bulawayo, Matabeleland North and South provinces to November 23, officially due to “logistical problems” but sources say the delays were precipitated by the escalating in-fighting .
Allegations of irregularities have been raised in Midlands, Manicaland and Mashonaland Central where those aligned to Mujuru’s faction were announced winners for the provincial chairperson’s posts. Among the irregularities cited in the three provinces were incomplete and fake registers that prompted accusations of rigging, as it emerged once again that Zanu PF had failed to conduct elections in one day.
Jason Machaya was declared winner in the Midlands after beating Mnangagwa’s right-hand man, former Zvishavane Runde MP Larry Mavima, while in the Midlands John Mvundura beat Manicaland senator Monica Mutsvangwa and in Mashonaland Central Luke Mushore was declared winner over incumbent Dickson Mafios. Mavima and Mutsvangwa filed letters of appeal seeking the nullifications of the poll results.
However Mugabe, after submissions from Saviour Kasukuwere and other senior party officials in the province, said on Wednesday the politburo will decide on Mashonaland Central after receiving both the results and the report from the presiding team.
Conveying Mugabe’s message on Mashonaland Central, presidential spokesperson George Charamba was quoted in the state media saying the politburo will decide on the election outcome.
“(The) politburo has not as yet received results from Mashonaland Central province. Equally, the politburo is still to receive a report which accompanies the same,’’ Charamba said. “It is only when the politburo has been favoured with both the results and the accompanying report that it is in a position to study both before taking a decision.”
But Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa said yesterday: “The Herald is not always right and we do not expect the editor (of that paper) to make announcements on behalf of the party.
“If the editor wants to speak on behalf of the party then he must join us and become an official. We make our announcements through our party spokesperson Rugare Gumbo.”
Mutasa also said the issue of re-runs is a figment of the media’s imagination.
The Central Committee agreed elections in the remaining seven constituencies should be held in accordance with the party constitution and electoral rules and guidelines, which stipulate polls must be conducted and concluded within one day.
Voting in Mashonaland Central, which was supposed to be held over a single day last Saturday, was extended to Sunday but six districts still failed to vote.
Following the Central Committee meeting there are conflicting reports on the party’s decision on the Midlands, with one group insisting there will be a re-run in the Midlands, especially in Shurugwi North, which Mavima cited in his appeal letter and that the party is still to decide on Manicaland, while others say the results were endorsed.
The Mujuru and Mnangagwa factions are fighting for control of provincial executives crucial in the fight to determine Mugabe’s successor because the structures will play a pivotal role in choosing members of the presidium at the December 2014 elective congress.
Meanwhile there is confusion over the maximum age of a person considered to be a youth in Zanu PF. Two different circulars have been sent out to the provinces.
One was sent out end of October, a week before the Manicaland elections, stating that a youth is a person aged between 15-35 years.
However, another circular went out on Wednesday changing the maximum age to 30 years, before Mugabe intervened to reverse it to 35, which is in line with the African Youth Charter.