ZANU PF’s politburo met yesterday in Harare and endorsed the results of the seven provincial party elections held over last weekend amid sporadic violence and claims of vote-rigging, in a move which further boosted Vice-President Joice Mujuru’s bid to take over from President Robert Mugabe.
The endorsement meant that those aligned to Mujuru won nine of 10 provinces, virtually decimating Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa’s camp which only got Matabeleland North province. This leaves Mujuru a step closer to succeeding Mugabe, although much will depend on the elective congress next year.
“We have endorsed all the results of the provincial elections,” party spokesperson Rugare Gumbo told the Zimbabwe Independent soon after the politburo meeting yesterday. “This is because everything was done above board.”
This follows a similar endorsement of earlier elections held in the Midlands, Manicaland and Mashonaland Central provinces which were tainted by allegations of intimidation, vote-buying, use of chaotic voters’ registers and ballot-rigging. So in total, including Manicaland, Midlands and Mashonaland Central, the Mujuru faction overwhelmingly defeated the camp led by Mnangagwa which only managed to win in Matabeleland North province where Transport minister Obert Mpofu, who is a key member of the group, is very strong. The full list of new Zanu PF provincial chairpersons includes: Manicaland (John Mvundura — Mujuru faction), Midlands (Jason Machaya — Mujuru), Mashonaland Central (Luke Mushore— Mujuru), Harare (Amos Midzi -Mujuru), Mashonaland East (Ray Kaukonde — Mujuru), Mashonaland West (Themba Mliswa — Mujuru), Bulawayo (Callistus Ndlovu — Mujuru), Matabeleland South (Andrew Langa — Mujuru), Masvingo (Callisto Gwanetsa — Mujuru) and Matabeleland North (Richard Moyo — Mnangagwa faction). The elections were crucial because they determined who controlled the critical provincial structures ahead of the party’s annual conference from December 10-15 and the elective congress in December next year.
While Mnangagwa is considered a serious contender in the race to succeed Mugabe, he has sustained a series of defeats in 1999, 2004 and 2009 congresses, something which has raised questions on whether he has the capacity to fight his way to the top. Mujuru’s latest victory and last year’s dissolution of the District Co-ordinating Committees in which Mnangagwa held sway after disputed elections has left him with a mountain to climb if he still entertains hopes of taking over from Mugabe.