Rushed Zanu PF primaries ‘spell chaos’

Zanu PF headquarters

A RUSHED ruling Zanu PF party internal poll set for tomorrow could trigger waves of discontentment in the former liberation movement, insiders warned this week.

They said the short notice to hold Zanu PF’s primary elections could lead to logistical challenges.

Last week, Zanu PF took a huge political gamble by calling for impromptu internal polls, as it tries to assemble candidates for this year’s crunch harmonised elections.

This year’s polls are expected to be held in July or August.

Observers said this week that the much-anticipated internal elections could either, strength or divide the ruling party, as divisions may erupt due to the abrupt call by first secretary, President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

There were also fears that the announcement, made on Thursday, may undermine resource-starved prospective candidates.

Party insiders, who spoke to the Zimbabwe Independent, said the internal polls would culminate in Zanu PF launching its campaign.

They also indicated that the party’s manifesto and campaign material has been secured, with leaders ready to hit the campaign trail.

Mnangagwa last week gave one week for prospective candidates to submit their curriculums vitae.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa

His campaign team, working outside party structures through the Heritage Trust and Forever Associates of Zimbabwe (FAZ), has already hit the ground.

According to impeccable sources, Mnangagwa’s campaign strategists have been holed up in a Harare hotel for months while campaign material started arriving at a port in Durban, South Arica, earlier this year.

“Mnangagwa has set up a well-oiled campaign team that has resources,” one insider said. “He is ready to go on the campaign trail as soon as Zanu PF is done with primary elections. He has been mobilising resources while the party manifesto is just as good as done with copies already available for endorsement.”

Chances of a chaotic campaign were still sending shock waves within the party, sources noted.

However, Zanu PF national commissar Mike Bimha yesterday said the commissariat department was busy with the vetting exercise.

“That is what we are doing (vetting) and we expect to meet the deadlines set and if we miss them we will seek guidance from the party leadership,” Bimha said. “People have been campaigning for a long time, some of them since last year and we are sure they are ready for the elections.”

Bimha said while they could be disgruntled candidates, they were expected to rally behind the eventual winners.

“The primary elections are an internal process. We expect them to accept the results and rally behind the winners and this is what we are encouraging our party candidates to do.”

Disgruntlement by losing party members have always affected Zanu PF over the years, leading to some running as independent candidates.

A party insider said: “This has been the case on several occasions because some candidates usually lose out on technicalities. We have also seen a trend where some old guards are ditching their traditional constituencies, especially in the national assembly, opting for the Senate.

“Some of them have also moved out of urban constituencies to try their luck in rural areas, but that does not guarantee success at all.”

Mnangagwa threw the cat among pigeons after unleashing youths, women and war veterans into the fray through “quotas” announced during the party’s congress last year.

“The Zanu PF vetting system is not only meticulous but manipulative. That is where challenges are expected to come, especially from disgruntled candidates,” an insider said.

The sources, however, said the return of war veterans into the Zanu PF campaign trail would have a huge say in how the elections turn out.

Stiff competition is expected across the country. In Mashonaland West, Zvimba South legislator Phillip Chiyangwa faces Tawanda Tungamirai, who has ditched Zvimba East.

Observers also predicted a tough contest in Makonde, Mhangura, Zvimba East and Chegutu East. In Makonde, deputy minister of Information and sitting MP Kindness Paradza is facing off with Simba Ziyambi, while in Mhangura, Precious Masango will face stiff competition from politburo member and former MP Douglas Mombeshora, sources said.

“In Chegutu East, we are still waiting to see what happens with Webster Shamu still facing former youth league leader Vengai Musengi,” the source said.

Musengi paved way for Shamu at the nomination courts in 2018.

Zanu PF sources in Mashonaland East said Chikomba will also be a hot bed with ministers Felix Mhona and Sekai Nzenza facing off for Chikomba East.

Health deputy minister John Mangwiro is also facing a Herculean task against the popular Tatenda Mavetera in Chikomba West.

In Mashonaland Central, provincial chairperson Kazembe could have dodged a bullet when businessman Tafadzwa Musarara moved to Mazowe North to face incumbent Cambion Mugwenhi.

In Mbire, incumbent Douglas Karoro will battle it out with returning former legislator and businessman David Butau with four other candidates joining the fray.

In Mnangagwa’s home province, the Midlands, July Moyo, Owen Ncube and Joram Gumbo are uncontested.

However, in Gokwe-Nembudziya, Justice Mayor Wadyajena faces former cabinet minister Flora Bhuka, while another ex-minister Makhosini Hlongwane is eyeing the Mberengwa East constituency.

In Manicaland, battle lines have been drawn in Makoni West where Information and Communication and Technology (ICT) minister Jenfan Muswere is facing off with Moses Ruwona.

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