HARARE – Unsanctioned primary poll campaigns by parliamentary hopefuls are becoming the order of the day in the ruling Zanu PF, prompting the leadership into issuing a stern warning against premature canvassing for votes.
Although dates for the upcoming elections are yet to be set, candidates aspiring for seats in the National Assembly are already on campaign trail, as they tussle out in various constituencies across the country.
Aspiring councillors are also on the ground, campaigning.
The campaigns are meant to decide who will represent Zanu PF in various constituencies and councils at the coming general elections.
The battles are more intense in what are perceived to as “winnable” seats in the rural areas.
Zanu PF national spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo railed against those who are going against party procedures yesterday, insisting the ruling party is yet to sanction the campaigns.
“I am not aware of any pronouncement by the party officially sanctioning such campaigns. Those doing so are violating party principles,” he said.
Khaya Moyo also declined to disclose when Zanu PF was likely to hold its primary elections saying: “I will let you know when the time comes.”
In Masvingo Province, there is a race to replace cadres who were linked to the dismantled Generation 40 (G40) faction.
Former police chief Edmore Veterai — who quit the police force in 2010 to go into full time sugarcane farming — is campaigning to secure the Bikita South seat vacated by Jappy Jaboon who was expelled from the august House last month after he was caught on the wrong end of the Zanu PF factional fights.
Jaboon, a former provincial political commissar, was a member of the vanquished G40 faction.
Contacted for comment yesterday, Veterai, a former freedom fighter, simply said: “I am in Bikita South most of the time, networking.”
He might face quite some competition from the flamboyant businessman Energy Mutodi, who is widely linked to the vacant constituency.
Zanu PF national political commissar Engelbert Rugeje has also been linked to the Bikita West seat, currently occupied by G40 protégé Beauty Chabaya.
Musician Elias Musakwa is said to be interested in contesting for the seat, which he has not won on previous three occasions.
In Gutu South, Zanu PF politburo member Pupurai Togarepi is being challenged by the daughter of the late minister of State for Masvingo Province, Shuvai Mahofa.
Yesterday, Togarepi refused to comment on the issue saying the party is yet to give the greenlight to prospective candidates to start campaigns.
In Mt Darwin South, Mashonaland Central, it is a wild dog battle for the seat that was left vacant following the expulsion of the ruling party’s former political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere.
As it is, there are at least five people who are vying for the seat including the Zanu PF youths league secretary for administration Godfrey Tsenengamu.
Business tycoon James Makamba along with two reporters Andrew Neshamba and Tendai Munengwa are also said to be going for the seat.
In Harare province, Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (Znlwva) spokesperson Douglas Mahiya who is eying Harare South constituency told the Daily News yesterday that there were several people, including President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s nephew Tongai, who have jumped the gun and are already campaigning.
“They did not work for the party. If the party was applying its rules, some people would have been expelled. It is clear that the rules are not being applied equally; the party has not yet opened the race to campaign for elections yet some people are already campaigning. It is clear that they are some people who were ready to pounce and are in this just to make money yet they never worked,” said Mahiya.
Tongai said he was not yet campaigning but was merely helping the community in which he lives.
“He should first prove his allegation; I stay in Harare South and I cannot be stopped from moving around in my constituency. There is Tonganyika Trust which is carrying out programmes around the country and we are helping people not only in Harare South but across the country. I have hosted soccer tournaments and we get funding from donors to help the less privileged,” said Tongai.
There is pervasive fear that the G40 faction — whose kingpins were exiled following the smart coup of November 18 — could sponsor candidates in the forthcoming elections.
The unease has been worsened by growing tensions between the Team Lacoste faction and the military men who also want to represent.