By Fungi Kwaramba and Tendai Kamhungira
The ruling Zanu PF party’s provincial structures are up in flames, rebelling against the decision by the politburo to give lifelines to individuals they had barred from contesting in the weekend primary elections.
On Sunday, the party’s supreme decision-making body in-between congresses — the politburo — released the names of candidates approved to stand in the primaries set for Sunday.
The politburo, framed along the lines of China’s political bureau, has torched discord in Zanu PF ahead of crunch polls to be held in July after authorising certain individuals who had been barred by their provinces to run in the primaries, while also removing from the list some names that had been okayed by their respective provinces.
Among those thrown a lifeline is Webster Shamu, the Provincial Affairs minister for Mashonaland West, and Chitungwiza South Member of Parliament, Christopher Chigumba.
Immediately after the list was released on Sunday, chaos broke out across provinces, with aggrieved aspiring legislators mobilising their supporters to question the politburo’s decision to vary recommendations made by their provinces.
Harare province has openly rebelled against the decision to give Chigumba the nod, with sources claiming the party’s leadership was seriously reconsidering the decision, although Goodwills Masimirembwa – the provincial chairperson – refused to be drawn into commenting on the matter.
In Mashonaland West, knives are out for Shamu who had initially been banished to a senatorial seat contest only to bounce back in Chegutu West, which had been preserved for provincial youths leader Vengai Musengi.
During a Provincial Coordinating Committee meeting held on Monday, it was resolved to write to Zanu PF’s national political commissar Engelbert Rugeje to express the provincial leadership’s disquiet.
At the same meeting, Zanu PF politburo member and President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s special advisor Christopher Mutsvangwa reportedly told members that the party would look into their grievances.
“We will carry your concerns to the commissariat and the politburo. I don’t know why the resident minister (Shamu) is not here with us. In Kariba, minister Shamu lied to the president that there were no people in the stadium, while it was full,” Mutsvangwa was quoted saying.
In Zvimba West, residents demonstrated against the province’s chairperson Ziyambi Ziyambi’s candidacy on Monday in support of one of the contenders, Lovejoy Gumbochuma Mawoza, whose name was removed from those submitted to politburo.
The demonstrators were allegedly beaten up by unknown assailants, who came in three trucks.
Mawoza has since written to Rugeje challenging his disqualification.
“I submitted my CV for the Zvimba West Constituency Member of Parliament scheduled for the 5th of May 2018. I then phoned the Mashonaland West province only to discover that my CV never made it to the province for vetting,” he said, further demanding an immediate vetting of his CV.
After failing to receive a response, Mawoza and his supporters decided to embark on a demonstration, which resulted in his supporters being assaulted.
“In Zvimba West, it’s only me and Mercy Dinha, who are the people’s favourites, but Ziyambi Ziyambi imposed himself and placed another candidate Elvis Mareverwa, whom we believe is just a decoy.
“We thought we can be heard by conducting the demonstration because no one wants Ziyambi Ziyambi in Zvimba West. These are just primaries and people are unleashing violence like this, imagine what they would do to the opposition. I am likely to go independent, I have no other option, I have been forced by circumstances,” Mawoza, a former United States Navy officer said.
“I want to push for title deeds for the rural folk, just like what the whites did when they came to Zimbabwe. It is a bankable thing, which helps with development. This is why I am angry, because, I have got a lot of ideas but my ambitions are being blocked,” added the 40-year-old aspiring MP.
Contacted for comment, Ziyambi’s mobile phone was answered by his aide who said the minister was on another phone and asked to be called after two minutes. When called again, Ziyambi said he was now getting into the Cabinet meeting and could not give his response.
Yesterday scorned legislators, including Epworth MP Zalera Makari, besieged the party headquarters demanding to know why their names had been removed from the list.
“I have written my appeal to the Zanu PF commissar. I think it’s very unfair that I should be disqualified behind closed doors. Why can’t they let the people decide?” said Makari, who accused her party rival and Zanu PF Epworth youth leader Kudakwashe Damson who will run in the Zanu PF primaries for peddling lies to tarnish her image.
This comes as Epworth had become a hotbed of violence with Makari recently fleeing for her life after a group of Zanu PF supporters stoned her during a party meeting. Makari took to her heels during a fact-finding mission with the Epworth Local Board to resolve illegal settlement.
She later reported the matter at Epworth Police Station and a docket opened under case number RRB 3448819 accused her party rival Damson of causing the altercation. In turn, Damson hit back, saying while Makari was indeed assaulted, he was not behind her attack.
Makari believes the violence she endured was part of a well-choreographed campaign to oust her from her constituency seat.
“I am being blamed for illegally selling stands by Damson who is a thief and a land baron. I am clean. What is more worrying is that in 2015, I stood against the current Zanu PF candidates for Epworth and they lost. I had the highest number of votes in the Harare by-elections. I have stood by the party.
“I have fought so hard for the development for Epworth, this is not fair. I am only female candidate in Epworth, where is the justice? On Sunday Zanu PF commissar General Rugeje said, on national television, that no sitting MP was disqualified. I am shocked that I judged this way the president has said the voice of the people is the voice of God but why can’t they let the people decide.”
Mnangagwa’s nephew Tongai, who was also omitted from the list—has already led demonstrations against the decision with his supporters besieging party headquarters to demonstrate their displeasure. Daily News