Fireworks expected at Zanu PF provincial polls

via Fireworks expected at Zanu PF provincial polls by Elias Mambo/Herbert Moyo/Brian Chitemba Zimbabwe Independent October 18, 2013 in News, Politics

SPARKS are set to fly in faction-riddled Zanu PF as rival camps strategically position themselves for the crucial October 26 provincial executive elections which will have a huge bearing in determining President Robert Mugabe’s successor.

The provincial executives play a major role in the nomination of members of the presidium in which a candidate requires at least six out of 10 provinces to land any of the top four Zanu PF posts comprising the president, two deputies and chairperson.

After the election of provincial executives, the party will then focus on the selection of the party’s leadership at an elective congress in December 2014. There is rampant speculation Mugabe, 89, will not finish his seventh term due to old age and poor health.

This has seen two rival factions allegedly led by Vice-President Joice Mujuru and Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs minister Emmerson Mnangagwa holding clandestine caucus meetings in preparation for the provincial executive polls which will be succeeded by provincial inter-district conferences set for November 2 to 8, before the annual conference of December 10 to 14.

“Provinces are further directed to utilise provincial inter-district conferences to adopt resolutions to be tabled at the 14th national annual people’s conference to be held in Chinhoyi, Mashonaland West province in December 2013,” wrote the party’s national commissar Webster Shamu in a circular dated October 11, which was sent to provincial chairpersons.

Judging from the chaotic scenes that engulfed Zanu PF primaries ahead of the July 31 polls, the party is likely to plunge into fresh turmoil as factions strategically align themselves in readiness for the political gamesmanship that could follow should Mugabe decide to step down before the expiry of his term.

“The Mujuru team has been on the ground readying its team for the winner- take-all contest that may help propel her in 2014 should President Mugabe announce his retirement plans,” said a senior Zanu PF official.

Fireworks are expected in Masvingo, the province that has often been a political hotbed for Zanu PF where intra-party violence erupted after the disputed District Co-ordinating Committees elections last year.

Masvingo provincial chairperson Lovemore Matuke, who wanted to battle it out with Tourism minister Walter Mzembi, was suspended yesterday for misconduct after signing nomination papers for fired Bikita West MP Munyaradzi Kereke, who had been barred from contesting.

“The Mujuru faction was last week locked in a meeting to choose between Masvingo Minister of Provincial Affairs Kudakwashe Bhasikiti and Tourism minister Walter Mzembi,” said a senior Zanu PF official from Masvingo. “It seems Mzembi got the nod ahead of Bhasikiti.”

The swing vote is likely to be Mashonaland West where a tough battle pits Temba Mliswa, Philip Chiyangwa, Nimrod Chiminya (brother of Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo) and outgoing chairperson John Mafa.

In Bulawayo, Killian Sibanda, dethroned as chairperson last year, is plotting a speedy comeback. Sibanda is linked to the Mnangagwa camp and enjoys the backing of Transport minister Obert Mpofu.

Sibanda was relegated to deputy chair in a reshuffle that saw him replaced by former cabinet minister Callistus Ndlovu, who has indicated he will not contest.

Apart from Sibanda, those interested include Bulawayo businessman Elifas Mashaba and former chairperson Isaac Dakamela, who was ousted because of alleged corruption and insubordination, as well as his close links to Mpofu.

In Matabeleland South, incumbent Andrew Langa is likely to sail through unopposed while in Matabeleland North Mpofu’s right hand man Richard Moyo will face a challenge from Patrick Utete — a close ally of former Matabeleland North governor Sithokozile Mathuthu.

The Mnangagwa faction is threatening to grab power from current chairperson in the Midlands province, Jason Machaya. Former Zvishavane-Runde MP and close ally to Mnangagwa, Larry Mavhima, has been tasked with winning the province’s hot seat.

In an interview, Mavhima said: “I am running for the chairmanship. Having been the deputy chairperson for four years I am positive I will grab the seat.”

“I also want to make it clear that I don’t belong to any other faction except that of Mugabe who is in power. While we acknowledge that Mnangagwa is a leader in the province it must be known that he belongs to Mugabe’s faction.”

In Manicaland, John Mvundura will battle it out with Mutare/Chimanimani Senator Monica Mutsvangwa, whose cover letter for her CV submitted this week was signed by Women’s League boss Oppah Muchinguri.

In Mashonaland Central, battle lines are drawn between Dickson Mafios, former Guruve North legislator David Butau and former Muzarabani MP, Luke Mushore. Butau and Mushore have the backing of Mujuru.