Thuggery, bribes mar Zanu PF primaries

HARARE - The ruling Zanu PF will hold its primary elections across the country  today, amid rising tensions and damaging allegations of violence, bribery, favouritism and the imposition of unworthy and unpopular candidates.

At the same time, there are real fears within the upper echelons of the party that many Cabinet ministers and long-serving legislators may fall by the wayside in the blood and thunder elections — with the winners of the internal polls destined to represent the former liberation movement in the make-or-break national elections due soon.

This comes as the looming national elections have generated such interest among both ordinary Zimbabweans and ambitious politicians alike that a number of opposition leaders are set to contest President Emmerson Mnangagwa in the presidential plebiscite.

The polls themselves will be the first in the past two decades not to feature former president Robert Mugabe and the popular late opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

Zanu PF national chairperson Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri confirmed that she had received many complaints over the party’s membership registers and verification processes — while also readily acknowledging rampant cheating in campaigns.

“Complaints are coming in that some candidates are creating their own cell registers and adding names of non-members, while some officials from the verification teams are letting them do this.

“If you put MDC people in your cells just to gain numbers, those people  will one day be responsible for your loss in the elections,” she said.

“Candidates should work together to create these cell registers because these voters don’t belong to an individual, they are Zanu PF voters.

“We will need the same voters after the primaries. Bad-mouthing your opponent will also only foster hatred, but if you work together voters will see that we are one and support us. Don’t divide the people,”  Muchinguri-Kashiri warned further.

As a result, several sitting party MPs have cast doubt on the likelihood of today’s primaries passing the litmus test, also going on to accuse Zanu PF national political commissar, rtd lieutenant general Engelbert Rugeje of imposing some candidates.

Mashonaland West party deputy provincial chairperson, Keith Guzah, threw caution to the wind yesterday, blaming Rugeje for allowing candidates that he accused of “hobnobbing with the opposition”, to contest him in his constituency.

“We have serious problems here where the commissar has allowed Mary Mliswa who is known to be an MDC supporter to contest here. Now we have a situation where she, with the help of her brother Temba (independent MP for Norton) are clandestinely causing the registration of opposition supporters in our cell registers so that they can also vote,” a fuming  Guzah — who is not on good terms with the Mliswas — told the Daily News On Sunday.

Guzah also claimed that Mary was Temba’s campaign manager in the tense 2015 Hurungwe West by-election in which he triumphed over the garrulous Norton MP, who was sacked from the ruling party for fraternising with former vice president Joice Mujuru.

In Chegutu West, incumbent MP Dexter Nduna also accused the Zanu PF leadership of allegedly allowing Generation 40 (G40) apparatchiks affiliated to self-exiled former Public Service minister Patrick Zhuwao to stand as candidates, despite fervent protestations by party members.

“... Zhuwao’s outfit is doing serious infiltration through the sponsoring of opposition within Zanu PF … they are using the Darwendale  fisheries co-operatives,” Nduna railed.

In Mashonaland Central, irate youths have written a letter to Rugeje  —who also chairs the elections committee — accusing provincial  chairperson Kazembe Kazembe of manipulating Mazowe West constituency structures to his advantage.

“We regret to bring to your attention the unfortunate conduct of our co-opted provincial chairman, ... Kazembe, who is trying to manipulate  the cell sheets by removing persons who he deems to support other candidates. We are appealing to the NPC to interdict this behaviour as  it is likely to lead to violence,” reads their letter.

Rugeje was not available to comment on his mobile phone, while Kazembe  dismissed the allegations outright — arguing that those raising such issues were pushing the agenda of his rivals.

The Daily News on Sunday was also told that tension was high in Mashonaland East, particularly in the provincial capital of Marondera, where longtime Zanu PF rivals, educationist Cleopas Kundiona and MP Lawrence Katsiru, were trading accusations of violence.

Katsiru is the current MP for Marondera Central.

“Kundiona’s people are intimidating everyone who does not support him. They go around in groups led by people who claim to have black belts in  karate, threatening to beat Katsiru’s people whom they are labelling  G40,” a Zanu PF district official said.

However, Kundiona’s camp said it was Katsiru who was allegedly employing violence in a bid to retain his seat.

“Katsiru has always had a violent disposition ever since we have known him in politics here. He is violent towards both his colleagues in Zanu PF and his rivals in the opposition, as evidenced by what happened here in 2008. So, you cannot really blame one candidate,” one official said.

In the Midlands, candidates vying to replace first lady Auxillia  Mnangagwa in the vast Chirumhanzi-Zibagwe constituency — provincial  youth chairperson Prosper Machando and Chrispen Tomu — were also at each  other’s throats, with Midlands provincial spokesperson Cornelius  Mupereri saying he was investigating reports of anarchy there.

“We have not heard what it is all about yet because we know both Tomu and Machando are candidates,” Mupereri said when probed on reports of  the alleged assault of aspiring ward 13 councillor Tremendous Musara, who is said to be campaigning for Tomu.

However, Machando denied being involved in the violence, saying such talk was the work of his detractors who wanted to give Tomu an upper hand in the race.

“I am not a violent person as everybody I have worked with in the party knows. Musara is an unstable politician who is trying to open doors for an MDC activist to campaign under the Zanu PF banner. It is for this reason that he is creating all these falsehoods,” Machando told the Daily News on Sunday.

In a social media outburst, Musara — who reportedly sustained injuries on the wrist during the attack — demanded an apology from his assailants.

“To all those who attacked me, I want you to apologise before I make this matter a police case. If you don’t comply I will not need a witness as Nice Time shop security cameras have all the evidence I need. So please, do as I say and I give you 24 hours,” Musara wrote.

Emotions were also running high in Harare Province’s Harare South constituency, with supporters of a retired soldier, Elliot Piki, who was inexplicably dropped on Friday threatening to de-campaign the party in the national elections.

Political analysts have said that this year’s Zanu PF primary elections  hold so much significance as they will go a long in way in determining how the national elections are likely to be held.

Apart from acting as a dry-run for the crunch national elections,  analysts also say the Zanu PF internal polls are likely to act as a gauge of Mnangagwa’s commitment to creating an environment conducive for the holding of free, fair and credible elections.

Comments (2),

mana - 30 April 2018

Rega zvipondane zvega isu hatisvikeko. Tomhanya naNelson bullet train Wamba chisa mpama Chamisa.

Tk - 30 April 2018

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