HARARE – Webster Shamu, the Zanu PF national political commissar, is under pressure to annul the provincial election results in Masvingo and order a poll re-run due to allegations of electoral fraud and flagrant violation of voting guidelines he had earlier outlined.
The election result three months ago, saw retired colonel Callisto Gwanetsa, believed to be a Joice Mujuru loyalist, being installed as provincial chairman after hammering his challenger Ailes Baloyi with a 4 112 margin.
The result also installed an executive that has been contested by members allegedly belonging to the Emmerson Mnangagwa faction.
Justice and Legal Affairs minister Mnangagwa, a 66-year-old guerrilla war veteran and President Robert Mugabe’s key ally, is widely seen as a succession contender, along with Vice President Mujuru, 58, another liberation war veteran whose nom de guerre was Teurai Ropa and is leading the stakes to succeed the 90-year-old president.
Both have been members of Mugabe’s Cabinet since 1980, and played a major role in Zanu PF’s re-election machine, and are looking to strategically position loyalists ahead of the elective congress in December that will decide a successor to Mugabe.
The challenge to the Masvingo vote has caused bitter divisions between the Zanu PF factions and has been characterised by smear campaigns and counter plots between protagonists.
The Daily News understands the Mnangagwa faction has appealed against the poll result at Zanu PF headquarters for presentation to the Politburo, after studying the electoral process with legal advisors.
The Mnangagwa faction believes if there must be a new election, it must be held under terms of the electoral circular drafted by Shamu, which the Mnangagwa faction alleges Gwanetsa flagrantly violated during the November vote, amid protests from the faction’s loyalists.
Shamu was not taking calls from the Daily News yesterday.
“The national commissar issued a directive on how provincial election candidates were supposed to be chosen by a basket of elected members,” a Mnangagwa faction loyalist told the Daily News.
“The Electoral College was to be made up of members of the provincial inter-district conference which would include elected MPs, members of the National Consultative Assembly, the Central Committee and members of the politburo to elect into positions the new provincial executive,” the Mnangagwa loyalist said.
“The provincial chairman Gwanetsa fraudulently misrepresented the national commissar’s written directive and denied the right for the provincial executive to be elected through the inter-district conference.
The provincial chair, with the aid of (Dzikamai) Mavhaire and (Masvingo minister of State Kudakwashe) Bhasikiti even introduced into the purported executive, members who had not been elected into the provincial basket namely Eddison Zvobgo (Jnr) and MDC lawyer Ronny Makawose.”
When Gwanetsa insisted with forging ahead with the process in violation of Shamu’s directive, Paul Mangwana, Daniel Shumba and Shuvai Mahofa reportedly staged a walk-out, insisting the vote must be undertaken according to the party circular.
While Mangwana and Mahofa were unreachable for comment, Shumba yesterday said he does not speak to the media.
The team cited “systematic” violation of the electoral guidelines which they contended “damaged the democratic purity” of the elections.
They insisted that they found a clear hint that the Mujuru faction was personally involved or had knowledge of the electoral forgery.
While Gwanetsa was unreachable for comment yesterday, he has previously dismissed the claims, saying he won fair and square.
But another Mnangagwa faction official said: “Members opposed to this corrupt event walked out, leaving Gwanetsa and Mavhaire to handpick the purported provincial executive.”
“A petition was written to the party headquarters for presentation to the politburo, whose directive is that the provincial elections in Masvingo should be undertaken as per circular,” the official said.
“Mavhaire has vowed to block this. This has led to the Mnangagwa faction allies being targeted for a vicious smear campaign in the provincial papers. All those seen as being the champions of the democratic process are being suffocated in their efforts to defend party principles, by what is perceived as the Mujuru faction.”
The Mnangagwa faction feels hard-done that there was a system of forgery, and it is enough to cancel the entire poll. The Mujuu faction, through Mavhaire, has made known its decision to reject a petition for a new election in Masvingo despite strong evidence of vote irregularities.
Should there be another election, the outcome cannot be taken for granted as it also influences the cadres who will be seconded to the Central Committee from the province. Daily News