Mugabe loses grip in home province

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President Robert Mugabe’s influence in his home province took a knock at the weekend following the election of John Mafa as Zanu PF Mashonaland West provincial chairman.

Mafa, widely believed to belong to a Zanu PF faction led by the party’s legal affairs secretary and Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, defeated Walter Chidhakwa by 544 votes in elections held at different centres across the province over the weekend.

Mafa polled 1 255 against Chidhakwa’s 711 votes.
Reuben Marumahoko and little known Moffat Marashwa trailed a distant third and fourth with 513 and 52 votes, respectively.

Chidhakwa, a close relative of President Mugabe was backed by Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo while the party’s national political commissar Webster Shamu supported Marumahoko.

“The people of Mashonaland West have spoken. They have made their voices heard. I am happy with the outcome although I could have won by a wider margin had my supporters in some areas not been prevented from voting,” said Mafa.

Elections were held concurrently in Kadoma, Chegutu, Chinhoyi, Hurungwe, Kariba and Murombedzi

Former Zanu PF provincial chairman Phillip Chiyangwa described Mafa’s victory as “a victory of good over evil”.

Although he refused to disclose whether he had supported Mafa financially, Chiyangwa said he was happy for the winner because of his long struggle against the party’s leadership.

Mafa was at one time controversially suspended from the party for alleged incompetence, but was exonerated late last year by the Zanu PF politburo.

“The (Zanu PF) leadership in Mashonaland West is always misfiring and they seem not to learn from their mistakes.

“At one time they suspended Dr Peter Matarutse, but the good doctor defied the party and contested as an independent and won the mayorship of Chinhoyi,” said a party youth who declined to be named.

The provincial elections were postponed twice because of infighting within party structures in the province.

Most Zanu PF bigwigs in the province boycotted a Press conference where the results were announced yesterday.