Fireworks expected as Zanu-PF slides into provincial polls





THE ruling Zanu-PF party is preparing for provincial party elections with candidates backed by politburo members seeking to solidify their control of grassroots structures clashing in the internal polls that have been characterised by violence among supporters.

Fireworks are expected at the polls set for Tuesday next week in the volatile Mashonaland Central and West provinces with elections in Manicaland and Masvingo also seen as potential hotbeds.

The provinces became political violence hotspots during elections to choose district structures with some of the elections still pending while several cases of violence also marred the party’s restructuring programmes.

Zanu-PF leaders First Secretary Emmerson Mnangagwa and Vice President Constantino Chiwenga were recently forced to issue warnings as violence escalated in the regional structures.

Kembo Mohadi, the party’s other vice-president also visited the provinces to quell the skirmishes.

Addressing a politburo meeting on Tuesday, Mnangagwa warned senior leaders that they faced expulsion for causing divisions ahead of the provincial party elections.

“The party election and mobilisation teams, alongside other relevant departments, are directed to strictly comply with the laid out rules and regulations that govern the conduct of elections,” he said.

“No individual, no matter their position within the party, is above the law. Our party’s internal democratic elections and processes must nurture political maturity and discipline to strengthen the spirit of comradeship within the rank and file of the party.”

National political commissar Mike Bimha, in an interview, said candidates were going through a vetting programme with successful names being forwarded to the provinces.

“They are being vetted as we speak. Maybe tomorrow (yesterday) they will be done but we are not going to announce them. We are sending back the names to the provinces after the vetting process. We will also produce ballot papers to be sent to the provinces. They are going through security checks. We don’t even ask why they (security department) have dropped so and so because it’s their prerogative.”

Bimha also dismissed reports of violence in the period leading to the elections despite reports of skirmishes among supporters of various candidates across Zimbabwe.

“I don’t think that is true. We didn’t receive any reports of violent issues. Yes people jostle for positions, that is very normal and it shows that the people love the party and they want party positions,” he said adding that the party would have disqualified candidates who fanned violence against fellow members if the violence existed.

“As far as we are concerned we don’t have those reports (of violence.) Yes people jostle for positions but that is competition and that is what it is. It’s actually healthy for the party.”

Mnangagwa has already stamped his authority handpicking Larry Mavima who stood unopposed in the Midlands province chairmanship race.

He is reported to have made the move to dilute the divisive fight between Owen Ncube and Daniel Mackenzie Ncube who were reportedly battling to push their preferred candidates.

In Mashonaland Central, incumbent Kazembe Kazembe will face Tafadzwa Musarara for the chairmanship after the politburo rejected businessman James Makamba’s candidature.

Sources from the province told the Zimbabwe Independent that a provincial co-ordinating committee meeting last weekend endorsed three candidates but Makamba was ejected on Tuesday.

“The province submitted three curriculum vitaes for Makamba, Kazembe and Musarara but Makamba’s name was thrown out.

“Kenneth Musanhi raised the motion during the politburo against Makamba accusing him of going after party chefs’ wives and he was seconded by Munyararadzi Machacha,” the sources said.

They said the candidate who got Makamba’s endorsement would win the election adding that if he cedes his support to Musarara then Kazembe would be de-throned.

“However, it is Musanhi’s scheme to prop Musarara’s candidature because he felt threatened by Makamba who has properties in Bindura besides being rich.

“There are also reports that Zanu-PF supporters from Mt Darwin are planning a demonstration at Musanhi’s house for what he did to Makamba,” the sources added.

Former youth league leaders in the provinces are also targeting to upset the applecart in Mashonaland West and East provinces.

Former provincial youth league chairman Vengai Msengi and his colleague Kelvin Mutsvairo have launched spirited campaigns to lead the main wings from their respective provinces.

Msengi will battle it out against Zanu-PF’s first-ever female candidate for the provincial chairmanship Mary Mliswa-Chikoka.

Other candidates include Makonde legislator Kindness Paradza, former acting chair Abiel Mujeri and war veterans league leader Happison Muchechetere.

Mujeri is reportedly getting a strong push from politburo member and former chairman Ziyambi.

In Mashonaland East, Mutsvairo will battle it out against businessman-cum-politician Ozias Bvute while other candidates include Daniel Garwe, Michael Madanha, the current acting chairperson, and former political commissar Herbert Shumbamhini.

The problematic Manicaland province has been turned into a battlefield of two factions — Ngangira and Dandemutande — reportedly fronting provincial “god-mothers” Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri and Monica Mutsvangwa.

The incumbent Mike Madiro is facing stiff competition from war veteran Albert Nyakuedzwa for the chairmanship with the two allegedly fronting the Ngangira and Dandemutande factions, respectively.

Four candidates are vying for the Harare provincial chairmanship with acting chair Goodwills Masimirembwa battling Godfrey Gomwe.

Gomwe is facing assault charges after he allegedly hit Masimirembwa with a chair during a meeting in the capital.

Other dark horses include former Mt Pleasant legislator Jaison Passade and Boniface Karoro, an ex-central committee member. In Masvingo, the incumbent Ezra Chadzamira has reportedly lost the favour of the party structures that are now rooting for Robson Mavenyengwa for the chairman’s position.

Other elections are also expected in Bulawayo, Matabeleland North and South.

Source – The Zimbabwe Independent