ZANU-PF in phased approach to polls

via ZANU-PF in phased approach to polls | The Financial Gazette 7 Nov 2013

ZANU-PF has all but admitted that it does not have the capacity to conduct its provincial elections at once in what has dealt a body blow to those within the party who thrived on chaos. The party had hoped to run its provincial polls in a single day but had to go back on its original plan after some provinces indicated that they were not ready for the elections.

In areas where the polls have been conducted, the party is now battling divisions among party members, amid allegations of vote rigging, vote buying and the imposition of candidates. This weekend, the party is pressing ahead with provincial elections in Mashonaland Central and Masvingo, two weeks after it held controversial provincial polls in the Midlands and Manicaland provinces.In Masvingo, suspended chairman Lovemore Matuke will not be taking part in the weekend elections. The battle for the Masvingo chairmanship would be between old foes Killion Gwanetsa, the lawmaker for Chiredzi South and Aaron Baloyi, who lost to Gwanetsa in the party’s primary elections held ahead of the July 31 national polls. In Mashonaland Central, the battle for the provincial chairmanship would be between incumbent, Dickson Mafios and Luke Mushore.

Mafios and Mushore have adopted the American approach to political campaigns whereby they are moving around the province addressing the same gatherings. “We are not enemies but comrades who are competing for the same position and hence why should we be seen to be fighting for a position. We are moving together as team ZANU-PF  campaigning and the comrade who endears himself with the people should be given the chance to lead with the province,” said Mafios.

“Right now he (Mushore) is addressing the same gathering that I have also addressed, which shows political maturity and we want that same spirit to filter down to the grassroots so that we are not divided on individual lines because the party is bigger than any one of us.” ZANU–PF spokesperson, Rugare Gumbo, said the weekend elections would be better organised.

“We are holding elections in Mashonaland Central and Masvingo this coming week and, as a party, we have learnt from our mistakes in the Midlands and Manicaland provinces. Off course we had disputed outcomes from the two provinces but we are now better prepared to deal with challenges, which occurred in those elections,” he said.

Gumbo blamed the chaos that characterised the elections in Manicaland and the Midlands on “unprincipled” party cadres who were more concerned with personal gain than party interests.

“The cadres who are not happy with the outcome of those elections have since appealed to the national elections directorate. We are now appealing to candidates taking part in this weekend’s elections to put the principles of the party first as well as its policies which secured us a landside in the just-ended elections ahead of personal interests. It seems that the cadres we have now are unprincipled; who are more interested in personal gain and hopefully this time around individual differences would be set aside in the interests of the party,” he said.

The provincial elections held so far have been marred by allegations of vote rigging and vote buying. They have also been rocked by factional fights between groups jostling to succeed President Robert Mugabe in the event that he retires from active politics. In the Midlands, Jason Machaya retained his post after facing a stiff challenge from his former deputy, Larry Mavima. Mavima is challenging the outcome of the elections citing gross irregularities in the manner the poll was conducted while Machaya has also hit back by demanding the censure of Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa’s wife, Auxillia along with Douglas Tapfumanei and Mackenzie Ncube alleging the same.

Elections in the Midlands had to be re-run in some parts of the province because of logistical problems.

In Manicaland, incumbent John Mvundura trounced Monica Mutsvangwa. Mutsvangwa had to pull out of the race claiming an outdated voters’ roll had been used to conduct the elections. She also cited voter intimidation during the elections among other irregularities. In Bulawayo, ZANU-PF members are calling on the party’s commissariat to rescind a decision by the provincial coordinating committee (PCC) to disqualify four candidates from the race for the coveted provincial chairperson’s post. Bulawayo is yet to hold its provincial executive elections.

Four candidates, Killian Sibanda, Simon Khabo, Joseph Tshuma and Augustine Ndlovu have submitted their papers for consideration by the PCC for the chairman’s post.

However, the PCC reportedly threw out the candidature of the four, arguing they had not met the qualities and criteria set for the provincial chairperson’s post. ZANU-PF politburo member, Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, who made the announcement after the PCC’s meeting, said the four “were not suitable for the post.”

But party members interviewed said there was need for the commissariat, led by Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services Minister, Webster Shamu to stamp its authority. Part of the criteria set out by the party requires a candidate to have been a consistent member of ZANU–PF for the last five years, among others.