Zanu-PF supporters in their hundreds staged a demonstration on Thursday afternoon at the party’s headquarters‚ the “Shake Shake” building‚ against the alleged imposition of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s nephew‚ Tongai‚ as a candidate in primary elections.
The demonstration comes after one of Mnangagwa’s key allies in the succession race to take over from former president Robert Mugabe‚ Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association (ZNLWVA) spokesperson Douglas Mahiya‚ claimed the nephew was being imposed as a candidate in Harare South to block his ascendance.
“He [Tongai] was rejected by the province and the politburo‚ but suddenly two days before the elections‚ he appears from nowhere as a candidate‚” Mahiya said.
Taking to the streets‚ placard-carrying supporters suspected to be linked to Mahiya accused Tongai of vote-buying and warned that they would end up removing Mnangagwa.
“Don’t intimidate us and impose to us people we don’t know. We won’t vote for the party and if all fails‚ we will even remove his uncle‚” said one party member as others started chanting Nelson Chamisa’s name.
Chamisa is the presidential candidate for the MDC Alliance – the biggest coalition of opposition parties.
The primary elections‚ that saw many heavyweights fall by the wayside‚ have sown seeds of discord. Christoper Mutsvanga‚ the special advisor to Mnangagwa‚ lost to Langton Mutendereki in Norton and did not take it kindly. In an interview with the independent daily News Day‚ he said Mnangagwa had been set up to fail through “weak” candidates.
He also accused the party’s national commissar‚ retired brigadier Engelbert Rugeje‚ of being too politically immature for the huge task of the political commissariat. “The new national commissar‚ while he is a comrade‚ lacks the party’s institutional memory and failed to handle this issue well‚ leading to the disenfranchisement of thousands of party members countrywide‚” said Mutsvanga.
War veterans led from the front in the removal of Mugabe‚ and Mutsvanga said they flowed with the will of the people.
“So‚ as war veterans‚ just as we did during the Mugabe era‚ give choice between a party that has lost through acts of omission or commission its fiduciary role‚ then we will be left with no choice but to go with the people‚” he told News Day.
Another sore point in the primary elections was the use of the police and state apparatus in party politics.
A Zanu-PF primary elections blueprint document leaked to the public revealed that 6‚500 police officers and 420 fueled government vehicles were deployed for the exercise.
However‚ losing candidates are now raising the issue as unconstitutional with allegations that police were used in vote-rigging.
“The main reason [rejection of loss] being the unconstitutional use of the Zimbabwe Republic Police‚ a state agency‚ as election returning agents‚” read a letter to Rugeje.
Mnangagwa has since castigated the use of police officers although it was a decision reached at the politburo – the central decision-making body of Zanu-PF.