THE Zanu PF politburo will meet Wednesday to discuss forthcoming harmonised elections amid mounting tension in President Robert Mugabe’s party over delayed primary polls to choose candidates.
Report By Everson Mushava Chief Reporter
Mugabe is pushing for elections by the end of March next year, but reliable sources said the move has thrown Zanu PF back into the crisis that almost splintered the party into several factions in the last elections in 2008.
Aspiring candidates have accused the party’s old guard of deliberately delaying the vetting process to deny them time to campaign.
Zanu PF has banned aspiring MPs and senators from campaigning until dates for primary elections are set.
The 2008 crisis sparked by imposition of candidates saw several members defying the party to contest against official Zanu PF candidates after Mugabe was forced to personally approve the list.
Sources said the banning of campaigns before primary elections was being used to frustrate potential candidates targeting constituencies held by long- serving party members. Aspiring candidates from Mashonaland provinces yesterday told NewsDay that delays in holding primary elections had become a source of discontent especially after Mugabe insisted on harmonised electionsby March next year.
“The President has made it clear that elections would be held next March,” said one of the aspiring candidates
“With only five months to go, I don’t know why the party’s commissariat is not calling for primary elections.
“It’s a deliberate plan to make sure that all those who want to challenge sitting MPs do not have the time to campaign.”
But Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo, who confirmed tomorrow’s politburo meeting, denied accusations that the party was trying to frustrate the aspiring candidates.
“It is misrepresentation of facts,” Gumbo said.
“The politburo is still working on modalities and rules for the primary elections.
“As soon as all those things are done, the field will be levelled.”
However, the sources accused Zanu PF commissar Webster Shamu of working with the old guard to frustrate the newcomers because he is also facing a serious challenge in his bid to retain the Chegutu East seat.
Shamu, who is likely to face Zanu PF Mashonaland West chairman John Mafa in the primary elections, denied the allegations before referring all questions to Gumbo.
Other prominent Zanu PF cadres facing an uphill battle to retain their seats from within the party include Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo and Mugabe’s nephew Patrick Zhuwao.
Chombo is being challenged by Edwin Matibiri while Zhuwao will square up against Central Intelligence Organisation operative (CIO) Francis Mukwangwariwa.
Other bigwigs facing a fight for their political lives are Transport minister Nicholas Goche and Guruve South MP Edward Chindori-Chininga, among many others in other provinces across the country.
Most of their challengers are former CIO and army officers.
In some areas in the Mashonaland provinces, violence has erupted with some aspiring candidates accusing the old guard of using dirty tactics to retain their seats.
A fortnight ago, Zanu PF supporters demonstrated at the party’s Mashonaland West provincial headquarters in Chinhoyi against the alleged imposition of the old guard on constituencies.
The demonstrators accused Chombo of trying to manipulate voters in Mutorashanga to ward off Matibiri’s challenge.
Mugabe at the weekend also revealed that the politburo meeting would come up with Zanu PF’s position on the draft constitution.