HARARE – Zanu PF primary elections are taking place countrywide today amid indications that some candidates who had been disqualified were cleared to run on the party’s ticket.
The primary elections were initially set for Monday but were postponed to Wednesday following demonstrations at the party headquarters over the imposition of candidates. Several journalists covering the demonstration were briefly detained by overzealous party security details before being released.
Central Committee member Isau Mupfumi and Mashonaland Central Governor and Resident Minister Advocate Martin Dinha withdrew their candidature for Mutare North and Bindura South constituencies, respectively, citing personal and professional reasons.
Only last week Dinha claims he survived an assassination attempt after someone tried to run him over with a car.
In Bulawayo, those who voluntarily pulled out include Peter Baka Nyoni who was contesting Retired Colonel Tshinga Dube in Makokoba. Rose Phiri also withdrew her candidature from Ward Two council seat. Nine candidates were vying for Mutare North while seven were gunning for Bindura South.
It could not be established who among the six candidates who launched appeals had made it into the race today. Zanu-PF supporters from six constituencies last Friday besieged the party’s national headquarters in Harare to protest the disqualification of their preferred candidates.
The disgruntled supporters were from Bikita West’s (Dr Munyaradzi Kereke), Zvimba North (Marian Chombo), Mhangura (Precious Chinhamo Masango), Muzvezve (Spiwe Mhungu), Goromonzi West (Energy Mutodi) and Mutoko South (Herbert Shumbamhini).
National elections directorate chairperson Simon Khaya Moyo could not disclose the names of the successful candidates yesterday, except to say it was “all systems go”. Sources close to developments said Marian Chombo had been cleared to contest her ex-husband Ignatius Chombo in Zvimba North.
Khaya Moyo could not be drawn into commenting, only saying some party cadres who had been disqualified had been allowed to stand after the provincial elections directorates, that met on Sunday, reviewed their complaints.
He said a few bounced back, while many failed, confirming the list that was approved by the Politburo. “The list had already been approved by the Politburo, but there were one or two cases in each province which needed review.
“I am glad the directorates reported that things went on well and they have resolved all the cases in their respective provinces.
“We are still receiving reports (from provincial election directorates) but I think it’s one or two (who have been allowed to stand). They are not many so we seem to be confirming that the Politburo did a thorough exercise.
“There were some mistakes here and there that were realised and we ordered that they be looked at. A few managed to come through, but others failed.”
Khaya Moyo said preparations were underway throughout the 10 provinces ahead of today’s internal polls.
“It’s all systems go. I am glad and I must say that as the national elections directorate, we are proud of our leadership in all the provinces, they have done sterling work. I am positive that by tomorrow night we shall be hearing very pleasant news in all provinces.
“We should of course have our final list of candidates on Wednesday morning so that they can register with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.
“The totality of it all indicates that Zanu-PF has quality candidates. They are not only aspiring, but they are also inspiring. Other parties have got expiring candidates. I am very pleased by the developments so far,” said Khaya Moyo.
Mupfumi said he had decided to withdraw from the race to promote unity among party cadres.
“I was the most senior person among the candidates who submitted their CVs to contest in the Mutare North primary elections and after serious consideration, I decided to withdraw my candidature.
“I have since written to the provincial chairman John Mvundura announcing my decision to withdraw from the race.
“Mutare North and Chipinge West had the highest number of candidates vying for the right to represent the party in primary elections and this alone creates further divisions in the party. This influenced my decision to withdraw,” he said.
Nine candidates had submitted their CVs for Mutare North. The number was reduced to eight following the disqualification of former Manicaland provincial chairman Cde Mike Madiro on account of his suspension.
Madiro, who was last week acquitted of stock theft charges, had submitted his CV alongside Cdes Mupfumi, Admire Mahachi, July Manyeu, Robert Gumbo, Godfrey Mundagowa, Sam Gamunorwa, Pedigree Matara and Batsirayi Pemhenayi.
Mupfumi promised to rally behind the eventual winner in today’s primaries. Zanu-PF deputy provincial secretary for information and publicity Charles Samuriwo, confirmed Mupfumi’s withdrawal.
Adv Dinha, who was scheduled to contest Venencia Madake and Remigious Matangira, cited personal, professional and political reasons along with his temporary incapacitation owing to an injury he suffered when one Khozanai Chijokwe allegedly tried to run him over with a car.
He said he would support all efforts to ensure electoral victory for Zanu-PF. He accused the provincial elections directorate of not acting on complaints forwarded to them.
In Beitbridge, preparations for the Zanu-PF primaries went on well with the party training 63 polling officers who would man 21 voting stations across the district. The party would have three polling officers per centre.
Matabeleland South deputy provincial chairman Rabelani Choeni led the training programme.
Three candidates are challenging Home Affairs co-Minister Cde Kembo Mohadi in Beitbridge East.
These are war veterans district chairman, Phillimon Mbedzi, businessman Johane Nare and Beitbridge Town Residents Association president Cde Lawrence Tshili. In Beitbridge West constituency, former provincial chairman Llyod Siyoga and Ruth Maboyi are challenging the incumbent Metrine Mudau.
Tambudzani Mohadi, Patricia Mohadi and Jokonaya Nare would battle for the senate seat.
In Bulawayo the candidates held campaigns in most suburbs although some voluntarily pulled out of the race. Those who pulled out include Peter Baka Nyoni who was contesting Retired Colonel Tshinga Dube for the Makokoba constituency. Rose Phiri also withdrew her candidature from Ward Two council seat.
Provincial spokesperson Michael Sikhosana said the candidates held successful campaigns in the city. However, Bulawayo Central National Assembly aspiring candidate Dr Gatsha Mazithulela complained that his agents had deserted him, saying he suspected that his opponents bribed them.
Dr Mazithulela, an academic, will battle it out with Eulyses Nowedza, Charles Chiponda, Mlungisi Moyo, Simangaliso Masuku and Charles Moyo.
Aspiring National Assembly candidate for Pelandaba-Mpopoma Dr Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, who is being challenged by Joseph Tshuma and Peter Mvemve, said there were some people who were going around, saying he was dying and quickly dispelled the rumour.
“I received inquiries from some sections of the media over my health after rumours were spread that I am seriously ill, which is not true. Some people had started celebrating that I will die.
“I only went to St Annes Hospital in Harare for a review and I was declared totally fit. Whether I am in Bulawayo or not, campaigning does not stop because I have people on the ground,” said Dr Ndlovu.
In Matabeleland North provincial chairman Richard Moyo said a few council contestants and Goodman Sibanda who was challenging Martin Khumalo for Lupane West National Assembly seat, pulled out of the race. He said all logistics were in place for today’s primaries.
“We are busy preparing for the primaries. The candidates in all categories are ready and polling officers have been deployed,” said Moyo.
“Basically all logistics are in place and Politburo and Central Committee members are supervising the preparation. The command centre will be in Lupane.”
In Beitbridge the party trained 63 polling officers who will man 21 voting stations across the district. Three polling officers would be deployed per centre.
In the Midlands more than a 1 000 aspiring candidates, among them 232 women, will be contesting for the 296 wards in different districts.
Shurugwi district has 34 female candidates contesting in the council primary elections, making it the district with the highest number of contesting female candidates for local government elections.
Midlands province Zanu-PF chairperson Jason Machaya said the party was more than prepared to hold the primaries after successfully training its polling officers.
“As the Midlands provincial elections directorate, we have prepared over 2 000 ballot papers for all posts on offer. Voting will be by secret ballot. We have been very busy preparing for the primary elections. There are more than 900 polling stations set up in the province,” said Machaya.
Midlands has 28 parliamentary seats and 296 (council) wards which are up for grabs in the harmonised elections. Machaya said the party started deploying polling officers to different corners of the province after completing training ahead of the primaries.
There was a hive of activity at the Zanu-PF district offices in Gweru yesterday as hundreds of polling officers waited to be deployed.
Some of the highlights of the primaries will be pitting Zanu-PF Politburo member and party spokesperson Rugare Gumbo against former Midlands Governor July Moyo. The two will be fighting for the Mberengwa Senatorial seat.
Foreign Affairs Minister Cde Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, will be fighting it out with former Midlands Zanu-PF deputy chairperson David Ruzive and Frank Mbengo. Midlands Governor, Jason Machaya will be standing against Tambai Masuka for the Gokwe South Senatorial seat.
In Matabeleland South, the chairman Andrew Langa said polling officers were deployed to all wards last night.
“Everything is on course for tomorrow’s primary elections. Returning officers are moving to their respective wards,” said Langa. Staff Reporter/The Herald