Over the weekend, Zanu-PF conducted an audit of its cell structures ahead of the 2023 elections at events dubbed the national cell day launched on Saturday.
The party’s national cell day was, however, marred by poor turnout and confusion in most parts of the country.
In some areas, the party cells failed to meet after Zanu-PF supporters failed to turn out, a development which forced Zanu-PF vice-president and second secretary Kembo Mohadi to cancel the exercise in his home town, Beitbridge.
In most urban areas, supporters went about their normal day-to-day businesses and completely ignored the Zanu-PF cell gatherings.
In a leaked internal memo dated May 11, 2022 written by police district intelligence officer Masvingo East Grifton Mushovu, seen by NewsDay, the security officers noted that in some areas, issues of factionalism within the ruling party contributed to the poor turnout.
In the memo, police said in areas where there was a high turnout of supporters for the cell audits, most of them were not registered party members.
Police also attributed the poor attendance to unfavourable weather conditions.
They warned the ruling party to up its game saying the poor attendance was a “shadow of what is on the ground”.
“However, there are reports that most cell structures are not a true reflection of what is on the ground,” the memo read.
“Some are reportedly doctored to save the interests of the sitting Member of Parliament, especially in Bikita East constituency where it is alleged that Comrade Johnson Madhuku ordered that no cell structure should be submitted to the party office without signatures appended by him as a seal of approval. The cell verification exercise should be taken seriously and holistically since cell structures on paper are a shadow of what is on the ground. Some cell chairpersons are deliberately omitting some members from the structures and when they get to 50 members,” the memo added.
Contacted for comment, Mushovu could neither deny nor confirm the authenticity of the memo saying: “I can’t comment over the phone. Where are you? I really can’t talk over the
Zanu-PF political commissar Michael Bimha said he had not yet received full feedback of the cell day attendance across the country. He, however, said at his cell there was overwhelming attendance, with only four people failing to attend.
“I can confirm that in Bikita there was poor attendance and politburo member Engelbert Rugeje called me to confirm it, but he said it was due to the cold, rainy weather,” Bimha said.
While addressing party members at Dambudzo 1 cell in Kwekwe on Saturday, President Emmerson Mnanangwa announced that government had waived requirements for acquiring national identity cards to enable people to register to vote.
“Now we have put in place new regulations that have removed all those required. We also said there is no longer need to pay for that document,” Mnangagwa said.
“You now get it for free, everything is now free. So we have streamlined everything. The freedom we enjoy today was brought by men and women who sacrificed to go to war. For 15 years, we battled hard until we secured victory and our independence. For us to preserve our independence, after every five years we go for elections to get a new mandate to rule from the people. For us to do so there is voting which takes place. Go and register to vote, the process is easy. War was the harder part and is already behind us,” he said.
Meanwhile, electoral watchdogs have raised concerns over the involvement of the police and the security sectors in Zanu-PF affairs, which they believe can jeopardise peaceful polls next year.
Elections Resource Centre (ERC) programmes co-ordinator Solomon Bobosibunu said: “If the memo is authentic, it is not professional for the police to act in that way. Police must maintain order and the nature of reportage that they are providing simply means that there is a vested interest in the activities of the party. They are advising as if they are part of the structures of a party that is undertaking a certain activity. On issues to do with traditional leaders, ERC has raised concerns over partisan politics. Police should arrest those traditional leaders who violate the Constitution, but they are reporting it as if it is normal.”
Home Affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe said he was too busy to entertain questions from NewsDay.