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Zanu PF running scared

Zanu PF is dangling ambassadorial postings, directorships in parastatal boards and other consolations to aspiring Members of Parliament who lost in its hotly-disputed primary elections to avert electoral sabotage similar to the one witnessed in 2008.

Oppah Muchinguri
Oppah Muchinguri

On Wednesday, the ruling party’s chairperson, Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, held a caucus with all legislators, most of whom lost in the primary elections held between April 29 and May 3, and assured them that their losing did not mean the end of the world.

Although Muchinguri-Kashiri was not available for comment yesterday, legislators who spoke to the Daily News said they were advised not to anchor their lives solely on politics.

“She said people should not lose hope after losing elections and told us that politics should not be a job but that people must invest in other areas to cushion themselves and invest rather than only looking at politics for survival,” said an MP who asked not to be named.

Another legislator who attended the same meeting said to quieten the discontentment that threatens to divide the Zanu PF vote ahead of the general polls, the broken-hearted were promised that they would be given roles on parastatal boards and in the diplomatic service.

One such parliamentarian who was reportedly promised a job was Hurungwe West legislator Keith Guzah.

“I remember her telling Guzah that he would be appointed a board member but some of the legislators rejected saying they cannot go back to work when they left their jobs to become politicians,” said the MP.

Guzah was noncommittal when asked to comment on the issue.

The Hurungwe West MP said he, along with other disgruntled Zanu PF lawmakers, have petitioned President Emmerson Mnangagwa seeking reprieve, although he was not forthcoming on the details of the petition.

Amid suggestions that some bitter losers, who felt that the polls were rigged could vote for the opposition MDC Alliance led by Nelson Chamisa, Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo urged the losing legislators to rally behind those who won tickets to represent the ruling party in the harmonised elections.

“This was not a war; it was a contest and in terms of Zanu PF philosophy, nobody lost and nobody won, it was the party that won. Whoever will represent the party must be supported. We must all canvass support for the party,” said Khaya Moyo.

With most of the losing candidates threatening a bhora musango, an electoral sabotage that was popularised in the 2008 harmonised elections when Zanu PF supporters voted for their preferred candidate in the council and parliamentary election but voted for an opposition presidential candidate, there are fears that Mnangagwa could suffer a similar fate if he does not quash dissent in his party.

A cagey Khaya Moyo refused to comment on the prospect of a bhora musango saying, “I cannot comment on those making such noises”.

On Tuesday, losing parliamentarians allegedly met in Harare and resolved to stand as independent candidates if Mnangagwa did not respond favourably to their concerns.

Beneath the surface, emotions have been festering as those who lost the polls consider life outside Parliament.

In the past, legislators who lost out in primary elections in the majority of cases never publicly defied the party but last week Zanu PF legislators showed signs that they were ready to rebel when they openly supported the MDC in Parliament.

For instance, in an unprecedented move, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga’s mother-in-law, Helga Mubaiwa, has dragged the ruling Zanu PF party to the High Court challenging the outcome of the recently conducted primary elections.

Mubaiwa lost the poll to rival Munyaradzi Kashambe, who was declared the winner to represent Zanu PF as its parliamentary candidate for the Seke constituency in the forthcoming elections.

In an urgent chamber application filed on Tuesday, Mubaiwa is seeking an order barring the party’s political commissar Engelbert Rugeje and the ruling party from supporting Kashambe until she exhausts all the available remedies in her quest to overturn the outcome of the primary elections.

Amid the disgruntlement, the ruling party is having a torrid time in reining in the rebellious lawmakers who now feel they have very little to gain from advancing Zanu PF’s agenda after losing the discredited internal polls.

Last week, some of the losing legislators, among them Irene Zindi (Mutasa South), John Holder (Zvishavane-Ngezi) and David Chapfika (Mutoko South) stole the limelight from their MDC counterparts who normally torment Cabinet ministers with stinging remarks and hard-hitting questions in the National Assembly.

Zanu PF is fearful that the disgruntled legislators might sink its attempts to block amendments to the Electoral Act being pushed for by the main MDC opposition party to level the electoral playing field, currently skewed in favour of the governing party.

Respected University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer Eldred Masunungure said Zanu PF leaders have every reason to fret because the numbers of people who are disgruntled are too many to disregard.

“The prospect of a bhora musango is ever present for all political parties and not only Zanu PF once they have completed their primaries. What is happening in Zanu PF is not entirely new, and the prospects of MPs sabotaging elections undermines Zanu PF chances in the forthcoming elections. The appeals from the leadership in Zanu PF are warranted because they are based on real fear of Zanu PF losing votes and thereby undermining ED’s (Mnangagwa) chances,” said Masunungure.

Political analyst Maxwell Saungweme told the Daily News last week that it was inevitable that MPs who lost will continue to respond in various forms, including defecting to Zanu PF’s rivals.

He said the MDC was likely to encounter the same situation once it is done with its primary polls.

“Zanu PF is a cult-like institution where you have to follow the leader’s line to continue to benefit. The MPs who lost in primaries are likely to respond in various ways: Some will defect to other parties, some will remain loyal to Zanu PF in anticipation of being accommodated in other roles in party and government once Ngwena (Mnangagwa’s nickname) wins the presidential polls,” opined Maxwell Saungweme.

“Because most of them are career politicians, they are unlikely to rebel and face recall from Parliament. We are also going to see a fallout from MDC-T primaries. So this will affect both parties in a way. It’s a problem on either side of the divide. It must worry both MDC-T and Zanu PF — the main contenders in the poll,” he added. Daily News