Rattled Mugabe's Zanu PF goes for broke

HARARE - Notwithstanding the fact that the main opposition MDC is boycotting tomorrow’s by-elections around the country, a rattled Zanu PF — severely weakened by debilitating and seemingly unstoppable factional and succession wars — is throwing everything at the electorate in its desperation not to lose some of the seats.

This has seen President Robert Mugabe’s party tasking his deputies, Emmerson Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko, to lead its massive and expensive campaigns almost on a full-time basis over the past few weeks — as it fears that any losses that it could suffer to candidates from fringe opposition parties could prove fatal ahead of the eagerly-anticipated 2018 national elections.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC has cited the country’s uneven electoral playing field as the reason why it is not taking part in the by-elections, amid ominous threats that it could also boycott the 2018 national elections if the situation is not rectified — a move that would discredit those polls before they even take off.

But despite the boycott by the main MDC, the warring post-congress Zanu PF is not taking any chances and stands accused of incorporating many of its “tried and tested tactics” of old in some constituencies such as Hurungwe West, including the use of violence and intimidation to scare its opponents and voters.

Just last week, many frustrated independent candidates besieged the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec)’s Harare offices demanding an end to the violence and harassment that has included the tearing of their posters and other campaign materials.

Analysts who spoke to the Daily News yesterday described tomorrow’s by-elections as “a contestation within Zanu PF” as many of its purged officials are sympathetic to participating independent candidates and are hoping to use the mini-polls as a barometer for 2018 when their “original” Zanu PF, which uses the slogan People First, is expected to take on Mugabe’s formation head-on.

Spokesperson of the “original” Zanu PF, Rugare Gumbo, said yesterday that it was clear that his erstwhile comrades in the ruling party were in “panic mode” because of their irrational fear of losing to anyone remotely associated with former Vice President Joice Mujuru.

“They are in panic mode. We have our values and we want democracy in these by-elections. We will stand with the independent candidates. We want to create democratic space and thus we don’t have problems working with people who are democratic at heart,” he said.

Asked about the chances of the mostly unknown independent candidates in the by-elections, Gumbo said while it was true that some of the candidates were not well known, they could spring some “surprises”.

“There is an obsession with the power of Mujuru (within the post-congress Zanu PF). Saviour Kasukuwere (post-congress Zanu PF political commissar) and Jonathan Moyo (Information minister) promised President Mugabe that they would destroy her but they have failed. That is why they are now scared and are threatening voters,” Gumbo said.

Last week Mujuru took most of her erstwhile Zanu PF colleagues by surprise when she publicly apologised for having been part of the rot that has brought Zimbabwe to its knees — a move that triggered both anger and fear among Mugabe’s acolytes.

Gumbo said it was “completely understandable” that Mujuru’s statement had rattled the ruling party as the “mere mention of her name” in the party invoked irrational fear among most of its senior officials.

“People understand her. She is a sober leader, is very humble and has galvanised the people of Zimbabwe. Moyo was raving and raging about her but all that is nonsense. We will support independent candidates because we are of the same views. Amai Mujuru represents the future and that is what people aspire for,” Gumbo said.

Former Presidential Affairs minister Didymus Mutasa told the Daily News yesterday that while he was also supporting independent candidates, he was saddened by the scale of violence that innocent villagers were being subjected to.

“Why does Zec tolerate what is happening? Soldiers are beating up people in constituencies where elections will be held and yet Zec is not doing anything. Do they have any function on a positive role or are they just a window dressing shop?

“Why should we have elections when the outcome is predictable? Why go into elections when Zec is playing such a benign role?” he complained.

A total of 102 candidates will lock horns in 14 constituencies tomorrow, with Zapu led by former Cabinet minister Dumiso Dabengwa also in the mix and eyeing the Bulawayo seats.

Analysts have since described tomorrow’s elections as a contestation between Zanu PF and its purged former officials who have already indicated a willingness to take on the ruling party come the 2018 general elections.

Alex Magaisa, a Kent University law professor said Zanu PF has rolled out a massive campaign because of the desire to maintain a winning mentality.

“The first strategic reason is that a team needs a winning mentality,” Magaisa said. “Zanu PF only cares about winning — whether means fair or foul, with or without competition. For them winning means everything. It gives them a good feeling, more confidence and helps cement the winning mentality.

“Zanu PF are like the football manager who fields his strongest team in all competitions — big or small — because they know the importance of a winning mentality in their team.”

The former advisor to MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai added that with Zanu PF engaged in brutal factional fights, the party is keen on maintaining a sense of “unity and togetherness.”

“When a team is doing well, there is less friction between its members. Zanu PF knows victory in these by-elections will boost the team spirit at a time when it is facing serious internal challenges.

“The third reason is that by-elections are a welcome distraction from the deteriorating economic conditions. A victory will give a sense of achievement, something to celebrate and forget temporarily the problems. You can bet that after these by-elections, more will follow. The staggered approach means that the country will forever be in election mode until 2018,” said Magaisa.

Maxwell Saungwema, another political commentator weighed in saying the ruling party wants to solidify its power base after the brutal purges.

“This is an endeavour to demonstrate that there is still one party called Zanu PF yet the reality is that the party exists on paper but only various factions and multiple antagonistic centres are what is left of the party on the ground.

“At the same time, the by-elections gives them the intelligence they want to see how strong the Mujuru faction is. The by-elections are a precursor for 2018,” Saungweme said.

Comments (17)

I have been looking for a proper channel to raise my concern but have failed to find one, I hope the Editor of this paper will be able to read this and address me. I want to first of all assure you of my religiousness in following the daily news. I however have concerns with your online copy or your website which is updated well after others have updated or too late into the day. What could be the problem? Some of us do not consider new News unless we read the daily news but you have been very disappointing with updating news items. Please improve on that.

tonderai gonzo snr - 9 June 2015

Is Zanu pf still in its normal senses.Doubtful.Mutasa and Mliswa must now test the taste of the pill they contributed to produce in Zanu pf laboritiries,that is ,Violence and intimidation.When MDC was calling for an end to violence and intimidation,they were laughing their lungs out.Chisingaperi chinoshura.Zvinzweiwo.Maiti Morga anopenga.

musa dhenyula - 9 June 2015

@tonderai gonzo snr. I couldn't agree with you more. It is indeed frustrating and I hope the Editor takes up your and my concerns. It is no news unless we are told as it is, not so late in the day!!! So, Mr. editor, please take note!!!

gorongoza - 9 June 2015

I agree with Gorongoza and Tonde. Daily News are sleeping on the job. We German fresh online news every morning.

banho - 9 June 2015

@tonderai gonzo snr. You are spot on dear friend. Let us have the online paper ealier in the day.

william - 9 June 2015

Gentlemen the Daily News must be commended for this Online Publication informing us of the goings on in Zimbabwe. Other News Papers, you have to subscribe and pay a fee to read their online publications. Financial wisdom dictates that it risks bringing the business down if sales revenue diminishes resulting in no online publication. Editor has to make sales first early in the day for financial support of online publication. They are giving back which is quite honorable. Thank you, Editor.

Dee - 9 June 2015

Tanga watenga remangwanani racho tozo poster or else hatingaiti ma sales

Gudo - 9 June 2015

The daily news must have a breaking news edition we are tired of munya munya every time . This online editor is not compete enough he is frustrating readers every day is management aware of that ? .We have raised this issue many times but nothing is happening why ? Someone is not doing his job at daily news or this is a form of sabotaging the popular paper ? Never no people are hungry including journalists so they can be bribed easily to destroy the paper suwa we are very very very frustrated .

Diibulaanyika - 10 June 2015

Print copies generate sales which keep newspapers afloat and in the black.I am happy to read the news , but do concede it is a bit late

David Lane - 10 June 2015

Muri mhata mese

Gudza Mutungwe - 10 June 2015

Zanu PF pretends to punic. That election was rigged before the day the Zanu PF MP (ex-cop) brought the issue of the by-elections to parliament.Zanu PF does not need any supporters to win elections- moreso by-elections. Voters were bused from all the provinces.

Taurai Zvose - 10 June 2015

Daily News yakamirira kuti Rugare Gumbo na Mutasa vatange vamuka vagowana NEWS. There is no article in this paper which does not quot from Gumbo or Mutasa,even the sports section

nnnggg - 10 June 2015

Who was beaten ,by who ,give us the list,hindava uchikwidzwa ndege yemashanga neMDC.Look at Dabengwa,Makoni etc,vakakwira dzemashanga ,vari kupi kupi,just look and see your failed politicians fall into the same trap.No one will follow you Mutasa,Gumbo Mujuru ,your failures

cobra - 11 June 2015

The turnout was low. MDC-T could easily have won almost all of the seats. The minority in the constituencies voted and won, because the majority stayed away. MDC-T will rue this chance.

machakachaka - 11 June 2015

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