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Zanu PF sets up ground for June elections

By Patrice Makova

HARARE- ZANU PF is moving a gear up in its bid to unilaterally call for polls this year amid revelations the party will hold primary elections in June and shortly thereafter, launch President Robert Mugabe’s re-election campaign.

Vice President John Nkomo, Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa (who led the CIO during the Gukurahundi Massacres) and President Robert Mugabe
Vice President John Nkomo, Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa (who led the CIO during the Gukurahundi Massacres) and President Robert Mugabe

Party sources said rules to guide the primary elections have now been approved by the Politburo and these were now awaiting endorsement by the party’s Central Committee which is expected to sit for a special session later this month or in April.

A politburo source said initially, the party wanted to hold the primaries after the completion of the current constitution-making process, but has now opted to conduct them in June because of the uncertainty surrounding the crafting of a new charter for the country.

“Mugabe and a few hardliners in the party are adamant elections should be held this year under the old constitution because they feel the proposed draft is taking too long to complete and not in their interest,” said the insider.

“No one in the politburo has the guts to oppose Mugabe. We had no option but to agree to his plans, but on the ground we know it’s going to be an uphill struggle.” Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa confirmed his party was ready to hold its primary elections, but declined to divulge the dates.

“Our primary elections are a Zanu PF internal issue, which I am not going to discuss in public,” he said. “What the nation should however know, is that there is no turning back on holding elections this year.”

Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa
Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa

Mutasa described a statement last week by Finance minister, Tendai Biti, suggesting that the treasury had no money to fund elections this year as “nonsensical”.

“Biti must stop making noise and quietly look for money to hold elections. It’s not his money and whether he likes it or not, elections will be held this year,” said Mutasa.

Zanu PF spokesperson, Rugare Gumbo said dates for the primary elections would be announced in due course and was confident funding for national elections would be found. “Biti knew elections would be held this year, but did not budget for this. The money will be found from the right sources once the time arrives,” he said.

Zanu PF has tasked the party’s department of Commissariat, headed by Webster Shamu, with ensuring the completion of the restructuring of district and provincial coordinating committees in time for the primaries, said another senior party official.

He said, although party officials have been instructed to start campaigning only when Shamu announces the selection criteria, jostling for seats has already begun, with interested candidates positioning themselves and smearing mud at opponents.

The source said party big wigs were for the first time going to face stiff competition from juniors in the party, as Mugabe has this time ruled out imposition of candidates as a way to hit back at officials who betrayed him to American diplomats.

“Mugabe says he believes imposition of candidates cost the party elections in 2008 and wants all the officials to pass the test if they are to represent the party. However, we all know that this is payback time for officials who betrayed him,” said the source.

The whistle blowing site, WikiLeaks, last year exposed that Mugabe was now isolated with his top lieutenants, including cabinet ministers, confiding to American diplomats that he should go. The Zanu PF official also said the abuse of the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) was providing ammunition to a faction in the party which was eager to eliminate the old guard.

A number of MPs have been arrested in connection with the abuse of the funds. Attorney General, Johannes Tomana has however tried to stop the arrests until June this year. Interestingly, the dates of the primaries coincide with Tomana’s June deadline by which all 210 MPs would have  been investigated.

Johannes Tomana
Johannes Tomana

Tomana, who could not be reached for comment yesterday, recently demanded that the Ministry of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs do a thorough audit of all the constituencies and present a report to him by mid-June, with the view to arrest more corrupt MP’s who could have escaped the Anti-Corruption Commission net.

“The AG’s actions have unsettled many Zanu PF MP’s, including cabinet ministers who abused the CDF,” a source within Zanu PF said.

They now fear getting arrested at a time when primary elections are expected to be held. They are also convinced that it is not by coincidence that a new CDF audit report is expected to be completed just before the party holds its primary elections.

So far, four MPs have been arrested after they were accused of looting the US$8 million CDF which saw each of the 210 MP’s in the country getting US$50 000 to develop their areas. Three senior Zanu PF ministers were also facing arrest for allegedly abusing their CDF. Ministers are normally arrested with the approval of Mugabe.

MDC to resist call for early elections

Threats to unilaterally call for elections will face resistance from MDC-T which recently reiterated minimum conditions that the party says should prevail for a free and fair poll.

Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai, said his party would ensure that the country holds free and fair polls, only after the implementation of agreed conditions such as a new constitution, political, electoral, media and other key reforms necessary to avoid the violence which characterised the 2008 elections.

Sadc facilitator and South African President, Jacob Zuma, has also insisted that elections should not be held until the GPA and the agreed election road have been fully implemented. Zimbabwe Standard