Joseph Madzimure and Trust Freddy
ZANU PF has deferred primary elections that were supposed to be held countrywide today due to an overwhelming response from cadres who are interested in representing the revolutionary party in the forthcoming harmonised polls.
Although the security vetting of prospective candidates has been completed, the National Elections Directorate (NED) is still working on submissions and is now expected to finish its work this weekend ahead of a Politburo meeting at the party’s headquarters in Harare on Monday.
New dates for the primaries will be announced after the Politburo meeting which will consider submissions from the NED and deliver the final verdict on the candidate list.
Addressing the media at the party’s headquarters yesterday, Zanu PF National Political Commissar Cde Mike Bimha said the party postponed the elections because it was overwhelmed by the large number of candidates.
“We had anticipated that by Saturday (today) we would have elections but because of the overwhelming response it was not possible to get to that target. We need to make sure that we go through these processes, the vetting process, the meeting of the National Elections Directorate which has to do a thorough job, and also to prepare all these submissions for consideration by the Politburo,” he said.
“Because of the overwhelming response, you find that in some areas we had 10 candidates for one position. We therefore have to do a thorough job to make sure that at the end of the day the decisions arrived at are a result of proper preparations, and to make sure that we get the right candidate at the end of the day.”
Cde Bimha said the party was happy with the huge response from candidates as it was an indication of the confidence that the people have in President Mnangagwa.
‘‘We are happy as a party that we received an overwhelming response from members willing to participate in the elections. The security department has finished its work, and today, the NED will convene to look at the recommendations from other departments. We expect the process to be completed this weekend, and recommendations will be taken to the Politburo meeting on Monday for consideration. After the Politburo meeting, primary elections will be held, I’m not sure if it’s Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, or Saturday,’’ he said.
Cde Bimha said the NED would look into concerns raised by party members.
“What will now happen is that the National Elections Directorate, which only meets when all these submissions have been made, will convene to look at all these processes and then make recommendations.
“It doesn’t have the final say in terms of who should stand or not. They will only make recommendations. Once they carry out that exercise, their recommendations are then considered by the Politburo. The Politburo has the final say. Once the Politburo considers these submissions and approves the recommendations it means now its game on,” he said.
Cde Bimha warned members against acts of violence, saying there was no room for anarchy in the revolutionary party.
‘‘I want to give a stern warning to our candidates in the primary elections that anyone found perpetrating violence will be disqualified as President Mnangagwa has always said there is no room for violence. So imagine perpetrating violence towards your own party members… what more during the general elections? So these are the bad elements we don’t want to see in the party,’’ he said.
Speaking at the same occasion, Zanu PF spokesperson, Cde Christopher Mutsvangwa, said the overwhelming response shows that there was democracy in the revolutionary party.
“If you can see Politburo members abandoning their offices to go and campaign on the ground, it’s an indication that democracy is alive.
“Generally, this is the word from the President; we favour inclusiveness rather than exclusionary vetting, there must be a very compelling reason for you to be excluded, and we are biased towards inclusiveness because we believe that we must include everybody.
“This makes it easy for the party to come together as a united team in the aftermath of the primary elections. We don’t want acrimony after the primary electrons so the only way to do it is to widen the candidate selection process and list and deepen democracy,” said Cde Mutsvangwa.
Cde Clever Mavuna, who is vying for the Seke Ward 22 council seat, said the postponement of the primary elections would give him ample time to canvass for support.
Zanu PF Harare provincial Youth chairman Cde Emmanuel Mahachi, who is vying for the Mbare constituency seat, said he is confident of claiming the right to represent Zanu PF.
Cde Zalera Makari, who is battling it out with Cde Taedzwa Musana in Epworth South, said she was confident of winning the primaries.
“I am confident of winning back the seat to Zanu PF. I am happy with the extension of the primary elections dates since it will give us time to drum up support,” she said.
Cde Musana, who is a Central Committee member, said he wants to restore sanity in Epworth and ensure Zanu PF is the flagship of the dormitory town.
“The extension of the primary election dates is healthy for the party and gives candidates time to contest peacefully,” he said.
The primary elections are being held against the backdrop of the completion of a nationwide cell/village building and verification programme.
The elections guidelines state that an electoral college, that will consist of party members appearing in the registers of the recently established cell/village structures, will be set up while prospective candidates must have been members of the party for more than five years at district level with a clear and undisputed record.
Waivers will be considered for civil servants and Diasporans who are keen to represent the party in the harmonised elections