This comes after Harare province held its primary elections on the weekend of October 10 to 11, following the recent recalls of eight legislators and 18 councillors by the MDC, as well as the death of Kuwadzana East legislator Miriam Mushayi.
It also comes as the ruling party’s deadly tribal and factional demons of yesteryear are once again wreaking havoc in the former liberation movement, as preparations for its pending district co-ordinating committee (DCC) polls – which were banned during the last few years in power of the late former president Robert Mugabe – also gather steam.
Now, disgruntled ruling party members are accusing Harare province bigwigs of ballot manipulation – claiming that the delays being experienced were meant to protect their “favourites” who might have lost in the hotlycontested internal polls.
Yesterday, party insiders claimed in interviews with the Daily News that the delays in announcing the results of the primaries had heightened tension in provincial structures – adding that the alleged levels of rigging and vote buying were alarming, to the extent that the provincial executive led by chairperson Godwills Masimirembwa had now resolved to approach the national executive for help and direction.
“The issue of elections is creating more divisions in Harare. Some candidates are not happy. They feel that the elections were not done properly. “Some candidates were imposed and some won because of vote buying, and all these issues are creating major problems for our party. Vote buying and alarming rigging has marred the
primary elections. In Kuwadzana, for example, elections were abandoned on October 10 after a fight over bribery allegations.
“There was a re-run of the primary election on Sunday. We resolved as a province not to announce the elections until we approach our seniors at the national headquarters,” one well-placed source told the Daily News. While Masimirembwa confirmed that the results of the primaries had indeed been withheld, he played down the allegations of factionalism, vote buying and rigging.
“I am yet to come across an election where there are no complaints. We are not delaying announcing the results. The results are given to the provincial management committee, then to the provincial co-ordinating committee (PCC), and we will then forward them to the commissariat department. After that they will be available to the media.
“We are going to forward them to the commissariat. Tomorrow (today) we are going to have a meeting. Our last primary elections were in Kuwadzana yesterday (Sunday),” Masimirembwa told the Daily News.
However, the results of previous Zanu-PF elections were announced promptly after polls closed and counting had been concluded. Masimirembwa, insiders said, was now consulting party bigwigs on how to move forward – following the alleged irregularities in the internal elections.
In the run-up to the primaries, senior officials engaged in ugly spats and accused each other of belonging to different factions. This comes as Zanu-PF was forced to postpone the Kuwadzana East primaries on October
10, after violence erupted in the constituency because some candidates allegedly distributed money to party members – who ended up fighting for the cash being doled out.
“There were running battles here in Kuwadzana as people fought over money which was being splashed by (name supplied but withheld) using runners. Voters were put into groups of 10 with one of them tasked with distributing the money. Trouble started when those who were handling the money in some of the groups did not give
it out,” a party insider told the Daily News last week.
Yesterday, Harare provincial commissar Kudakwashe Damson declined to comment on the developments. “Get in touch with the chairman (Masimirembwa) … but what I can tell you is that we are done with the issue of primary elections.
“The only person who can speak about the results is the chairperson,” Damson said. In the build-up to the contentious polls, Damson told the Daily News that the ruling party had received numerous complaints from candidates.
“We are not ready to release the results of the elections because we have received several complaints from candidates who are alleging that the elections were not fair,” he said.
Just a few days before primary elections, Damson accused provincial women’s chairperson Betty Kaseke of disappearing with the party’s voters’ roll – amid claims that she allegedly intended to manipulate structures in the Kuwadzana East constituency.
Kaseke denied the allegations. Damson also claimed then that Zanu-PF bigwigs were aware of alleged land barons and remnants of the ruling party’s vanquished G40 faction who were using “dirty money” to buy the support of party structures to either become MPs or have their proxies win the elections.
“Regarding land barons, we have disqualified those that we know, including our Zone 1 district co-ordinating committee secretary Ignatius Nyakweta, because we know he has a case before the courts over land issues.
“The same also applies to Phillip Guyo, our shadow MP for St Mary’s and Bonface Manyonganise. All of them wanted to be candidates for St Mary’s constituency. But we said we cannot take such a risk because they can be arrested any time.
“The problem is all over the province, especially in St Mary’s, Epworth, Harare Central and other areas where land barons have either presented themselves for election or are sponsoring candidates,” Damson alleged.
“G40 candidates have also shown serious interest in the primary elections. We, however, managed to weed out some of them. But in other areas it was difficult because we could not disqualify some on the basis that they were being sponsored by land barons,” he added.
The Harare primaries were held to choose representatives for the vacant parliamentary constituencies in Epworth, Glen Norah, Harare Central, Highfield East, Highfield West, Kuwadzana, Kuwadzana East, Mufakose and St Mary’s.
A total of 38 candidates submitted their CVs to represent Zanu-PF in the nine constituencies, but only 25 were given the green light after 13 were disqualified for reasons ranging from not having been in the party for five years or being a land baron, among other allegations.
For local government elections, 74 candidates expressed interest for the 21 wards – out of which 58 were successful, while 18 were disqualified for various reasons, and two withdrew on their own volition.
The withholding of the Harare primary elections results comes as Zanu-PF is also preparing for DCC polls which have similarly been marred by allegations of money changing hands and ugly factional fights. So deep are the suspicions in this regard, that the former liberation movement has now roped in its security department to
investigate these allegations and to deal with the growing ructions in general, which have sullied the
party’s preparations for the pending DCC elections.
The DCC structures elect Zanu-PF’s 10 provincial executives – from where the party and President Emmerson Mnangagwa draw members of the central committee and the politburo. The party’s DCCs were disbanded in 2012 after they were deemed to be fanning factionalism during Mnangagwa and former vice president Joice Mujuru’s battles to succeed Mugabe.
Then, Mnangagwa’s group had gained control of most regions, including Mujuru’s Mashonaland Central province – putting him in a strong position ahead of the party’s 2014 congress.