via ZANU-PF elections: The good, the bad and the ugly | The Herald December 3, 2013 by Tichaona Zindoga
Zanu-PF’s provincial elections held at the weekend in the remaining seven provinces were a classic story of the good, the bad and the ugly.
The elections also raised serious questions about the concept of internal democracy in the revolutionary party.Zanu-PF national chairman Cde Simon Khaya Moyo yesterday said he would give a review of the process only after reporting to the party’s Politburo.
The good thing may be that the elections and the hype and political innuendos around them, which had been described as an “unnecessary distraction” to the party, are over.
The initial elections in Manicaland, Mashonaland and Midlands early last month were characterised by massive logistical challenges and reports of vote rigging, among other irregularities.
Last weekend’s elections followed more or less the same script, all amid hype about alleged factions and succession race in Zanu-PF.
It was widely hypothesised that a win by provincial leaders aligned to either Vice President Joice Mujuru or Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, would determine the chances of these perceived two horses in the race to succeed President Mugabe.
Both leaders are on record as denying leading the so-called much talked about factions.
However, Saturday had its ugly moments.
In Mhangura, Mashonaland West, police had to fire tear gas canisters to quell violent skirmishes that arose out of factional loyalties and the non-appearance of some people on the voters’ roll.
Comrades Temba Mliswa, the eventual winner, and Phillip Chiyangwa were the main contestants.
Pictures from Mhangura, where some people were injured in the violence, told a story of a party tearing itself apart.
One of the losing candidates, Cde Blessed Geza, described the elections as a “disaster because people were not able to exercise their democratic right to choose their preferred candidates.”
The losing candidate in Mashonaland East, Cde Philemon Mutongi, has not been graceful in defeat. He is even questioning the authenticity of the figures, which saw Cde Kaukonde win by 24 263 votes, while he also cries foul that he submitted his CV to the party on October 24 yet it was only published on November 27, 48 hours before voting.
He also claims there was multiple voting in favour of Cde Kaukonde.
“I was looking at the numbers from other provinces and it’s an average of 5 000. Where did the figure of 24 263 in Mashonaland East come from when there was low voter turnout? I was even beating him in his home area of Mudzi South,” he said.
Cde Mutongi, political commissar of Ward 5 Marondera Rural for the past 15 years, said he would petition the party over the issue.
In Bulawayo, Cde Killian Sibanda, decried the process claiming that 70 percent of the voters failed to cast their ballots because their names were not on the lists.
Reports said some candidates produced their own voters’ rolls.
Police had to be called in to intervene in Gutu and Bikita as fights broke out because some voters’ names were not on the roll and some claimed they had been disenfranchised because they supported a particular candidate.
At another polling station, voters stormed out after allegedly being told to vote for one candidate.
In Bikita, said one report, voters’ names were removed from the Electoral College allegedly because they supported Cde Munyaradzi Kereke.
The elections shone the limelight on the state of internal democracy in Zanu-PF.
However, war veterans’ leader, Cde Jabulani Sibanda, said the elections showed that “Zanu-PF is not only a revolutionary party but a democratic party.”
“Infighting and voting irregularities do not reflect democracy in an intra-party or national election,” said Cde Sibanda.
Political commentator and Midlands State University lecturer Dr Nhamo Mhiripiri, noted the elections reflected internal democracy at work, although facing challenges.
“When you have an electoral system/college that administers the transparency and fairness of elections it shows your system is working,” he said.
“The problem in any political elections arises when you find the results are being contested like the national elections…(but) systems are never perfect and political parties might have irregularities because they do not have sufficient resources,” he said.
“Democracy is expensive, it serves public interests and not personal interests,” he added.
University of Zimbabwe lecturer Dr Charity Manyeruke, said Zanu-PF was very serious about implementing internal democracy as a political party and that internal bickering was normal for people in a political party.
“Democracy works for a common ground and not to gratify personal agendas,” she said.
“The predicament is when problems arise and they are not addressed,” she added.