THE recent primary elections to select candidates for the March 26 by-elections have exposed deep-rooted factionalism in Zanu PF Bulawayo province with growing fears that the G40 faction might be firming its grip on the ruling party’s provincial structures.
Zanu PF conducted primary elections across the country where there are parliamentary and ward vacant seats to choose candidates to represent the party in the upcoming by elections amid allegations of vote buying, rigging and intimidation.
Party insiders who preferred anonymity explained deep-seated factionalism within the provincial structures with indications that members are divided between those allegedly backing Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga and others belonging to a group aligned to President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
There are also indications that the G40 faction is re-grouping.
For Bulawayo, Zanu PF officials believe that the selected candidates are likely to lose the forthcoming by-elections.
“The primary elections were rigged and this will work against the President. For some wards ballots were mixed so that people could not see their candidates. Ballots never balanced with figures of up to 100 in some instances. That means people were smuggled even when they were not on the voting list,” said the source.
“Vote-buying was allowed with no questions asked. Complaints on the irregularities were not entertained while the provincial chair acknowledged there was something wrong with primaries. The chairman must know that he is chairing a pure 70% G40 executive,” the Zanu PF insider said.
Zanu PF officials noted that complaints were made to the national leadership soon after the primary elections but were ignored in a situation that might culminate in a “bhora musango” scenario. “Bhora musango” happened in 2008 where Zanu PF supporters voted for MPs and snubbed the late former president Robert Mugabe.
Zanu PF Bulawayo chairperson Jabulani Sibanda rubbished the claims citing that all complaints were forwarded to the party headquarters in Harare.
“That is nonsense, there is no factionalism here. I am aware of what you are asking. All the complaints brought to the office were forwarded to Harare and that is where you can get your answers from. I don’t have answers to your questions,” Sibanda said.
However, observations are that since assuming provincial chairmanship, Sibanda has maintained a low profile shying away from the media with strong claims that existing factional fights now present a complex task in uniting the province.
“Sibanda is now just a shadow of former self. It is known from way back that Sibanda and Mnangagwa are close, even during the late former president Robert Mugabe’s tenure. We expected change from him but many people are disappointed,” the insiders said.
“Hopefully he will find a solution; on the issue of candidates, he was left out only to know when curriculum vitaes had reached Harare. They by-passed him.”
However, among the Bulawayo based central committee members, Tshinga Dube, Molly Mpofu and the Bulawayo Metropolitan minister Judith Ncube have since been exonerated from the internal squabbles rocking the province.
Zanu PF spokesperson Christopher Mutsvangwa said party members will vote for the former liberation movement despite issues raised.
“For primary election issues look for Comrade (Mike) Bimha, but those are members of the party they will vote for, so you can’t risk the loss of your party because you have a complaint,” Mutsvangwa said.
Zanu PF political Commissar Bimha was not reachable on his mobile phone.
In council by-elections in Bulawayo’s ward 8, Loveness Ndlovu (Zanu PF) is representing the party against Bekezela Ncube (Zapu), Edwin Ndlovu (CCC), Tafara Gandare (UDA), Rosa Ndlovu (MDC-A), Taurai Mashizhe (Independent), Albert Moyo (Independent) and Tobias Nyamhlambanje (Independent).
In Ward 9, Lovemore Mnyamana (Zanu PF) will battle it out with David Ncube (APP), Donaldson Mabutho (CCC), Gasela Mhlaba (MDC-A), Philisani Ncube (LEAD) and Innocent Msipa (UDA).
Mary Ncube (Zanu PF) is contesting ward 12 with Visitor Ndebele (MDC-A), Casper Sibanda (Zapu), Lilian Mlilo (CCC) and Esnath Khumalo (RTZ). In Ward 18, Enoch Madzimure (Zanu PF) battles it out with Sibonakaliso Tshuma (MDC-A), Concilia Mlalazi (CCC), Gibson Sikhosana (Zapu) and Taringana Manyika (UDA).
Ntando Moyo (Zanu PF) will battle it out with Adam Felix Dambano (Zapu), Peter Ncube (MDC-A) and Christopher Dube (CCC) for ward 19. Ward 20 has Thabo Thwala (Zanu PF), Ethel Sibanda (MDC A) and Ernest Rafa-Moyo (CCC). Ward 21 has Janet Moyo (Zanu PF) Geshom Zimba (MDC-A) and Tinevimbo Maphosa (CCC).
Lungisani Sibanda (Zanu PF) is contesting ward 26 against Norman Hlabano (CCC), Japhet Ncube (DOP), Simangele Ndebele (MDC-A), Janana Ngwenya (independent), and Mpumelelo Moyo (CCC).