HARARE – Several Zanu PF heavyweights who include Cabinet ministers could fall by the wayside in the party’s forthcoming blood and thunder primary elections, with the youth league cranking up the heat on senior officials by launching a nationwide campaign to propel more young people into Parliament.
By Andrew Kunambura
This comes as the Zanu PF Women’s League is also agitating for 50-50 representation in both Parliament and other arms of government, in a bid to narrow the growing disparity in political and economic influence between men and women in the country.
At the same time, the looming make-or-break national elections have generated such interest among the country’s political parties that a number of opposition leaders are set to contest President Emmerson Mnangagwa in the presidential plebiscite.
The emergence of Nelson Chamisa in particular as the new MDC leader appears to have energised opposition supporters, especially the youths who see him as a viable alternative to Mnangagwa.
The polls themselves will be the first in the past two decades not to feature ousted former president Robert Mugabe and the late opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
Although Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo maintained yesterday that the ruling party was yet to open campaigning by its prospective candidates, the Daily News On Sunday has it on good authority that the jostling for positions in the party has reached fever-pitch, with members of the youth league going all out in the provinces to canvass for their candidates.
Among the youth league leaders who are agitating for more party representation by young people is youth league national political commissar Godfrey Tsenengamu.
“Young people who have been at district level in Zanu PF leadership for five years must seize this opportunity and run for MP positions,” he posted on social networking site Facebook on Friday.
Meanwhile, Tsenengamu himself has expressed interest in the Mt Darwin South constituency which was left vacant following the expulsion of former party national political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere, who is now living in self-imposed exile following the decimation of the Generation 40 faction in November last year.
The Mt Darwin South race is likely to be heavily contested, as businessman James Makamba and a reported 33 other contestants — who include two journalists from the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, Andrew Neshamba and Tendai Munengwa — are also said to be eyeing the constituency.
Apart from Tsenengamu, provincial youth chairpersons Godwin Gomwe, Vengai Musengi, Kumbulani Mpofu, Edmore Samambwa, Tamuka Nyoni and Washington Nkomo — who were re-instated in the party following the fall of Mugabe from power — are also eyeing legislative posts in their areas.
Musengi confirmed to the Daily News on Sunday that he was interested in contesting for the Chegutu East seat, which is currently occupied by Mashonaland West Provincial Affairs minister Webster Shamu.
“Yes, I am interested in the seat. If the party approves my candidature, I will definitely stand,” he said.
Gomwe, who is Harare Province youth chairperson, has his sights on the Budiriro constituency, although he declined to comment when contacted about his aspirations.
In the Midlands, Samambwa is said to be bidding to unseat provincial chairperson Daniel Mackenzie Ncube.
Deputy secretary for youth affairs Lewis Matutu is also apparently preparing to go toe-to-toe with John Holder for the Zvishavane-Ngezi constituency.
In Gutu South, Pupurai Togarepi — the Zanu PF secretary for youth affairs — is facing a serious challenge from the late Masvingo provincial affairs minister Shuvai Mahofa’s daughter, Nyengeterai.
Party officials from Masvingo said she stood a better chance against the Zanu PF politburo member, whom they claimed hardly ever visited his rural home.
Yeukai Simbanegavi, the Zanu PF national youth secretary for information and publicity, is reportedly taking on MP and local businessman, Ticharwa Madondo.
In addition, the Zanu PF Youth League is demanding that a certain number of parliamentary seats be reserved for its members, which could force the party to find ways of incorporating new blood into its ranks.
But Khaya Moyo insisted yesterday that no one was “allowed” to campaign yet.
“The dates for primary elections shall be announced soon. As such, members should desist from campaigning. Members intending to contest must wait till the pronouncement has been made for them to start campaigns,” he said.
A number of Cabinet ministers who were appointed into government as non-constituency MPs will also have to go through the primaries, to stand a chance of making it into government again, if Mnangagwa wins the polls.
Those who are apparently in most desperate situations include former military bosses. These include Agriculture and Lands minister Perrance Shiri and Foreign Affairs and International Trade minister Sibusiso Moyo.
Also likely to be affected are Higher and Tertiary Education minister Amon Murwira and Mines and Mining Development minister Winston Chitando, who got into government on the basis of their technical know-how.
The list also includes war veterans leader Chris Mutsvangwa, who had to be dropped as Information minister by Mnangagwa last year after Mnangagwa realised that he had appointed more non-constituent MPs than was permissible at law.
Mutsvangwa is seeking to bounce back in Norton where he recently clashed with sitting independent MP, Temba Mliswa.
The non-constituent MPs are said to be facing fierce resistance as perceived party minnows are refusing to cede their constituencies.
According to the Constitution, the president can only appoint a maximum of five ministers outside the legislative assembly.
Mnangagwa last year redeployed Shiri from Mashonaland East to Mashonaland Central where he owns a farm and made him the most senior politburo member there. This means that he will be contesting for Shamva North which is currently occupied by former Zanu PF politburo member, Nicholas Goche.
There are also indications that Sibusiso Moyo’s best bet could be Mberengwa South constituency, currently occupied by the out-of-favour Chiratidzo Mabuwa.
July Moyo has been earmarked to replace Makhosini Hlongwane as Mberengwa East legislator.
Zanu PF political commissar Engelbert Rugeje is said to be eyeing Bikita East constituency, formerly represented by the incarcerated Munyaradzi Kereke.
Another interesting case is that of deputy minister of War Veterans, Victor Matemadanda, who apparently wants to represent Gokwe Gumunyu constituency, whose sitting MP is Melania Mahiya.
According to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec), about 60 percent of the 5,3 million people who have registered to vote in the crucial polls are between the ages of 18 and 40 — statistics which have galvanised both opposition parties and the youths to dream higher. – Daily News