INTRAPARTY violence has rocked the ongoing Zanu-PF district elections being held throughout the country as factions aligned to President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his deputy, Constantino Chiwenga, seek to outwit each other and land key positions ahead of provincial elections which have been postponed to early next year.
In some instances, party members physically attacked each other amid allegations of voter manipulation and intimidation.
In some provinces, the elections had to be aborted and postponed to today after the provincial leaders observed that the cell registers were in shambles and there was massive rigging.
There were also reports that in some areas, the party was using registers meant for beneficiaries of the Presidential Input Scheme to account for voters.
The Zanu-PF politburo last week announced that it had suspended the divisive provincial elections to allow for the smooth running of its national conference set for end of this year.
The ruling party’s internal elections are being held at a time when opposition parties have been barred from holding campaign meetings to nominate candidates for the 40 parliamentary and over 80 council seats which fell vacant following the recall of MDC Alliance MPs and councillors.
In Harare, supporters of Godwills Masimirembwa and Godfrey Gomwe pelted each other with stones and bricks in Epworth on Saturday.
Both Masimirembwa and Gomwe are eyeing the provincial chairmanship.
The two party officials could not be reached for comment, but party insiders said Gomwe’s supporters provoked the violence.
Zanu-PF acting spokesperson Mike Bimha said he was unaware of the alleged clashes.
“I just arrived from Bulawayo today (yesterday) and from the briefings I have so far received, there is nothing about the alleged fights,” Bimha said.
In Manicaland province, disgruntled party members yesterday demonstrated against provincial chairperson Mike Madiro, accusing him of imposing candidates.
The members, including youths, demonstrated at Mutare Teachers College demanding an address by Madiro, who was at that time addressing a provincial electoral committee meeting.
Madiro had to be whisked away by the police after the protestors became more daring following his alleged refusal to address them.
The placard-waving protesters later demanded to be addressed by provincial political commissar, Gift Kagweda, and acting national commissar Patrick Chinamasa.
They were still camped at the provincial offices at the time of going to print last night.
Some of their placards read: “Madiro must go”, “No to imposition of candidates”, “With Madiro, we can’t achieve the five million votes”.
In the Midlands province, factional fights forced the postponement of the district elections to a later date.
Supporters are polarised between State Security minister Owen Ncube and incumbent chairman Daniel Mackenzie Ncube.
In Gokwe, Gokwe-Nembudziya MP Mayor Wadyajena had to seek police escort after Zanu-PF supporters threatened to attack his vehicle, accusing him of trying to impose candidates in polls supervised by a district co-ordinating committee team from Gweru.
On Friday, while addressing party supporters after touring a community garden benefiting hundreds of women in Gokwe-Nembudziya, Wadyajena said senior Zanu-PF officials should desist from abusing President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s name to land influential positions in the ongoing restructuring exercise.
“No one should force you to vote for a person you don’t want (to vote for). No one should abuse the name of chefs to say the President has sent me. That is selling out and unacceptable,” he said.
In Mashonaland Central province, the district polls, which were scheduled for Friday, will now be held today after concerns were raised over chaotic voter registers.
The chaos was attributed to alleged attempts by incumbent provincial chairperson Kazembe Kazembe to impose his cronies as candidates.
“We aborted the elections because there was confusion in cell registers and ballot boxes (which) were supplied in threes, meaning rigging was already happening, hence we stopped them. This was orchestrated by Kazembe who is fighting to reclaim his seat,” a party insider claimed.
Insiders said Kazembe held a meeting to plot the rigging at his farm on September 18, which was attended by nine allies who hold influential positions in the province.
Kazembe, however, dismissed the allegations.
“People who are creating the confusion are known, that is nonsense as usual. Kazembe doesn’t vote in the more than 400 districts in the province. People are just scared of the elections. Let us allow people to choose their leaders without manipulation,” he said.
In Masvingo province, chaos was swirling following allegations that provincial chairperson Ezra Chadzamira had planned to bus in council workers to vote for candidates loyal
— Additional reporting by Kenneth Nyangani, Simba Sithole and Amos Batisayi