BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA
FRESH power struggles have erupted within the ruling Zanu PF party ahead of the March 26 by-elections after 119 members declared interest to contest for only 28 vacant National Assembly seats.
The ruling party held violent and chaotic internal polls to elect provincial executives last month, and the process to select candidates is likely to widen the fissures between those believed to be aligned to President Emmerson Mnangagwa and those said to be in the camp of his deputy, Constantino Chiwenga.
The provincial polls were marred by allegations of rigging, vote-buying, name-dropping and violence in most provinces.
Some constituencies have as many as seven aspirants.
Zanu PF spokesperson Christopher Mutsvangwa yesterday told NewsDay that the overwhelming response showed that the party was “democratic”.
“There are 119 members who have submitted their CVs. We are happy that there is so much enthusiasm from the party membership,” Mutsvangwa said.
“We are abiding by the national Constitution, and our party constitution to ensure that members exercise their rights in a democratic way.”
In Harare province, 40 aspiring candidates submitted their CVs and they will jostle for 12 vacant parliamentary seats.
In Mashonaland East, 23 candidates will contest for three constituencies, while in Manicaland, six aspiring candidates will contest for two constituencies.
Bulawayo has two constituencies with seven prospective candidates.
Matabeleland North has three constituencies and 10 candidates, while Midlands has six vacant constituencies with a total of 33 candidates.
Zanu PF will hold its primary elections on Thursday this week to choose candidates for the by-elections.
Mutsvangwa said he was optimistic that the primaries would be violence-free after Mnangagwa had cracked the whip on members who were perpetrating violence in the previous polls.
“The President has cracked the whip on errant party members,” he said.
“You are aware that he fired some party members. The director for administration for Zanu PF (Dickson Dzora) is the latest member to be fired. The President is not tolerating any nonsense in his bid to promote accountable, free and fair elections.”