The Zanu PF faction linked to Vice-President Joice Mujuru emerged victorious in the party’s national youth executive elections held at the weekend, grabbing the two senior-most positions by a wide margin.
The elections, which ended in the early hours of yesterday, were characterised by massive vote-buying, a factor which President Robert Mugabe admitted in his closing speech delivered just after 4am.
Makoni West MP Kudzi Chipanga became Zanu PF’s new deputy secretary for youth affairs after beating Tongai Kasukuwere from Mashonaland Central in the fiercely contested poll that is set to give Mujuru’s faction an advantage in the party’s succession fights.
Chipanga, who is reportedly linked to the Mujuru faction, polled 1 381 votes against Tongai’s 926 to get a ticket into the party’s supreme decision-making body, the politburo. Tongai, brother of Environment, Water and Climate Change minister Saviour Kasukuwere, reportedly belongs to a faction linked to Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa.
The second most powerful position — secretary for administration — was won by Harare East losing parliamentary candidate Varaidzo Mupunga, also said to be in the Mujuru camp. She polled 1 413 votes, trouncing Lewis Matutu of Midlands, who garnered 891 votes.
Matutu, a Midlands State University student, is linked to the Mnangagwa faction and was initially set to contest the deputy secretary’s position. He chickened out at the last minute to make way for Tongai.
Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo confirmed Chipanga’s victory.
“We are happy with the outcome. There was high competition, but finally, the people chose whom they wanted,” Gumbo said.
Chipanga also enjoys strong support from Presidential Affairs minister and Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa.
Mutasa himself has not ruled out contesting the Zanu PF chairmanship position currently held by Simon Khaya Moyo, who looks set to be elevated to Vice-President at the December elective congress.
Chipanga will now be sworn into Zanu PF’s central committee and politburo at the party’s December congress. Mupunga, Kasukuwere, Matutu and Masvingo’s Yeukai Simbanegavi (finance), John Mushayi of Mashonaland East (political commissar), Bulawayo’s Mpe Malinga (external relations), Tungamirai Matonhodze from Mashonaland West (security), Matabeleland North’s Aleck Nyakuwara (transport) and Matabeleland South’s Evelyn Mpofu (information) will be sworn in as Zanu PF central committee members.
Mugabe, who earlier on admitted to the existence of factional infighting, in his closing remarks in the wee hours of yesterday said he was aware the polls were marred by vote buying and manipulation by party bigwigs.
“I know there have been hitches. I know other party hawks tried all they could to use money to influence the outcome of the vote,” Mugabe said. “If you are manipulated by money, you are spoiled already. To me, you don’t deserve to be a Youth League leader at all. If you accept to be bought by money, you are rubbish! You are more also, just rubbish as the person who has given you the money . . . both of you, the giver and the given are alike.”
Zanu PF is embroiled in serious infighting as the race to succeed Mugabe gathers momentum. Mugabe on Friday fired a salvo at party bigwigs in the central committee and politburo for engaging in “dirty” factional meetings, while failing to raise money for the youth conference. Mugabe’s remarks came after youths struggled to secure funding for transport and had to go for a whole day without a meal.
The youths also admitted the party was succumbing to factionalism, claiming party bigwigs were splashing cash to sway them to vote for certain factions. Highly-placed sources told NewsDay cash passed hands just before the elections. Party heavyweights spent the whole of Saturday milling around the Rainbow Towers Hotel, canvassing for votes along factional lines.
Intimidation of voters was also said to have been rampant. One of the factions reportedly secured funding of $200 000 from a mining giant which it used to buy the votes of provincial executive members.
Part of the funding would be used to buy votes at the Women’s League conference, Zanu PF insiders said.
After winning the polls that dragged until midnight on Saturday, Chipanga yesterday pleaded with the youths to set aside personal differences and work for the good of the party. He said factionalism was a media creation.
“Elections are gone. We should now unite and form a strong force to retain all the lost ground to the MDC come 2018,” Chipanga said. “We should work as disciplined cadres and heed President Mugabe’s call and put an end to factionalism, corruption and indiscipline. We can achieve more as a united front. As the youths, we will stand by no one else except President Mugabe.”
Zanu PF is now set to hold its women’s conference this week. Mugabe’s wife, Grace, has already been nominated to take over from Oppah Muchinguri as the Women’s League boss. All the country’s 10 provinces have already endorsed her nomination. NewsDay