Mugabe's hot potato

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe convenes a crucial politburo meeting today which is due to set timelines and guidelines of holding primary elections amid serious bickering and backbiting over parliamentary candidates in the former ruling party.

Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo confirmed the politburo meeting would tackle the divisive primary elections.

“We are going for our politburo meeting tomorrow (today) and I will have to check for the agenda of the meeting with my colleagues but I can tell you that one of the issues which is going to be discussed is the holding of the primary elections in preparation of the harmonised elections,” Gumbo said.

“We shall also discuss the draft constitution which was endorsed by the nation last month.”

Amid an election season, Zanu PF members in the country’s 10 provinces have been busy canvassing for support. The meeting today is expected to discuss the rules and regulations which are going to be used for the primary elections. Aspiring candidates will then submit their applications for vetting and approval and only then can primary election campaigns start.

The Daily News understands the meeting will also brainstorm on the party’s election manifesto that includes among other things, the land, indigenisation and empowerment, health, education and youth empowerment.

A team led by serial political flip-flopper Jonathan Moyo has reportedly been busy working on the election manifesto, a task that has since been completed.

The crucial meeting will also tackle mobilisation of supporters in provinces, districts and wards.

A new electronic membership card is expected to be officially unveiled, as the liberation party moves to align itself with current trends.

Already, there is controversy over the new electronic membership cards amid reports that the one now being preferred is inferior and different from the card that was launched at the Gweru Zanu PF conference in December last year.

But it is the divisive primaries that are set to take centre stage at today’s special politburo meeting that is being convened to scrutinise and endorse the rules and regulations for the internal Zanu PF elections.

 The politburo convenes as Zimbabwe’s security sector is trying to perpetuate its power through the forthcoming elections, with several top serving commanders and scores of mid-ranking and retired officers seeking legislative seats on a Zanu PF ticket.

In a remodelling of an unprecedented scale, senior officers in the army, police and airforce are seeking to stand in the forthcoming parliamentary elections in huge numbers — the first such move since independence in 1980. The meeting today is expected to decide on that.

If approved, they will first have to contest in the Zanu PF primary polls alongside civilians and other members of the government. Senior party sources say they have all indicated to the Zanu PF elections directorate their interest in participating in the next primary elections as parliamentary candidates.

There are dozens and dozens of other retired officers also lining up to run on a Zanu PF ticket. The Politburo is also expected to flesh out a proposal by a cabal of so-called “Young Turks” called “Generation 40” who have dreamed up the strategy to retire the old guard, and have been frantically trying to sell the idea.

In order to succeed, an extraordinary number of deals with factions and sub-factions has to be done to make it happen — with subsequent favours having to be returned in the form of seats.

According to Zanu PF insiders, the so-called “Young Turks” are pushing for a clinical clean-out of party dead-wood to cut a new and winning impression. - Chengetai Zvauya and Gift Phiri

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