'Call for Zanu PF indaba sign of panic'

HARARE - President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s call for a Zanu PF indaba to heal wounds emanating from its just-ended chaotic primary elections is a sign of panic amid fears for another bhora musango scenario reminiscent of the 2008 elections, analysts say.

Mnangagwa is desperate to unite winning and losing candidates of the recently conducted primary elections following threats of a protest vote by disgruntled Zanu PF supporters.

The primary elections were marred with allegations of rigging, vote-buying, violence and bribery, leading to the discontentment of those that lost in the internal elections.

Most of those that lost have been mulling to run as independent candidates, in a move that will seriously divide the votes against Zanu PF.

Cognisant of this fact, Zanu PF has called for a two day reconciliation workshop organised through the Hebert Chitepo School of Ideology.

However, analysts canvassed by the Daily News yesterday described the move as a “fire-fighting exercise” that was mooted out a realisation that the situation in the party is potentially explosive.

Political analyst Gladys Hlatywayo said the ruling party is in a dilemma and is now seeking to use every means necessary to survive the forthcoming election.

“The party is now a pale shadow of its former self given the NPF (National Patriotic Front) and (Joice) Mujuru factors. In terms of numbers, these parties will most likely chew into the traditional Zanu PF base and will have serious ramifications on Zanu PF’s power retention chances.

“Coupled with the threat of a renewed and energised MDC, it somehow makes sense for Zanu PF to go for the reconciliation workshop, at least to keep the depleted forces together. I however, doubt if that will be sufficient to legitimately win the next election,” Hlatywayo said.

The workshop, which is expected to be attended by several party members, will be addressed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

In a circular issued out to all provincial chairpersons, the Zanu PF Department for the Commissariat said the workshop will be held at the Zanu PF Headquarters Main Hall.

“The Commissariat Department, through the Chitepo School of Ideology, has organised a healing and reconciliation workshop to unite all candidates who participated in the party’s primary elections for the Senate and National Assembly.

“Provincial chairpersons are requested to invite all their respective winning candidates and losing candidates in the said primary elections to attend this very important meeting scheduled to be addressed by His Excellency, the President and First Secretary of Zanu PF, (Cde) ED Mnangagwa, on Wednesday 30 May, 2018,” the circular reads.

Another political analyst Maxwell Saungweme said with so many parties emerging ahead of elections, it only made sense for the ruling party to coalesce to avoid cases where the fledgling parties taking advantage to fish from its pond.

“The electoral battleground has morphed as it is no longer just a choice between Zanu PF and MDC,” Saungweme said.

“We now have 124 political parties with some three or so strong ones formed out of the fallout in Zanu PF.

“NPF and Mujuru’s NPP are parties that can easily tap from the pool of disgruntled Zanu PF supports and candidates.

“I think this process is a realisation of existence a real threat to Zanu PF election campaign and its rigging mechanism.

“The party needs to amass some serious numbers of voters in order for rigging to be successful. While setting up such reconciliation process or forum is good and will unite Zanu PF, it is a sign that there is panic in Zanu PF house. They like MDC Alliance need every vote,” he added.

The Zanu PF primary elections created serious fights within the party, resulting in the party ordering for reruns in at least 11 constituencies across the country.

However, other observers say  while allegations of electoral fraud by some candidates may give ammunition to Zanu PF critics, the internal fights are a common phenomenon and do not signify a weakening of the party.

Renowned political analyst Piers Pigou said Zanu PF was desperate to ensure harmony in the party ahead of elections.

“It is significant that they are having this meeting. I’m not aware of them doing this before. It demonstrates how important the leadership feels it is to secure a common vision amongst the party’s disparate elements,” Pigou said.

Others also warned the opposition against reading too much into the current fights and chaos in Zanu PF pointing out that the party has always thrived on such behaviour since its formation, a half century ago.

A University of Zimbabwe War Strategy lecturer who requested anonymity said Zanu PF has over the years exhibited attributes of chaos and disorderliness, but manages to overcome these when faced with an external enemy.

“It’s a typical baboon type of approach where they unite to fight a common external enemy. But when the external enemy is defeated, they go back to fight each other,” he said, adding that “Zanu PF will therefore outlive this chaos and disorder and what is currently happening simply confirms what the party has been for half a century.”

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