Zanu PF’s politburo will meet today to consider new guidelines for primary elections amid indications the party is already backtracking on a proposal to bar aspiring candidates that have been members for less than five years.
Report by Everson Mushava
The meeting of the party’s secretariat, chaired by President Robert Mugabe in Harare, will kick-start the Zanu PF annual conference that will end in Gweru on Saturday.
A number of issues — including a central committee report detailing activities of the party since the last conference held in Bulawayo in December 2011 — would be tabled. The central committee is also expected to meet in Harare tomorrow before the activities move to the extravagant new Zanu PF conference centre in Gweru.
Politburo members are expected to touch on the constitution-making process.
But with Mugabe’s succession on the backburner once again, it is the debate on primary elections and selection of candidates that is expected to take centre stage.
Zanu PF sources yesterday said a report by a committee led by the party’s secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa on the proposed rules for the primaries would be tabled.
Mutasa yesterday confirmed the rules would be discussed in today’s meeting and dismissed suggestions they would split the party.
“This is what we have decided that we think will carry the party forward,” he said without elaborating. Some of the rules, if adopted, would effectively end the aspirations of the so-called Young Turks angling to unseat Zanu PF’s old guard.
They include former Central Intelligence Organisation operatives, serving and retired police as well as army officers.There were also fears that the committee was targeted at the alleged masterminds of the Tsholotsho Declaration who tried to topple Mugabe in 2005, leading to their expulsion.
The former provincial chairpersons have since been re-admitted into the party and are eyeing seats in elections expected next year.
Former Information minister Jonathan Moyo last month said Zanu PF would bend the rules for him in the clearest indication of the fissures.
Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo has been quoted indicating a climbdown from the hardline position on candidates.
Sources said there were growing fears the rules could see disgruntled members opting to stand as independents and embarrass the party in the do-or-die polls.
“The (politburo) meeting is expected to be tense,” said the source.
“The old guard is being accused of crafting rules to consolidate their positions. This is largely seen as imposition of candidates.”
Gumbo said the rules were not cast in stone and could be adjusted depending on popularity of individuals. Mugabe’s trusted lieutenant Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo is facing a fierce challenge from the veteran ruler’s close relative, Edwin Matibiri.
The conference will be held at the 5 000-seater Zanu PF conference centre hurriedly built by Chinese contractors and cost the party $6,5 million.
Meanwhile, the Zanu PF politburo will also deliberate on the hero status of Mberengwa North MP and central committee member Jabulani Mangena, who was buried at his Somabhula Farm near Gweru yesterday.
Zanu PF’s Midlands province had recommended that Mangena, who died last Friday, be declared a national hero.
“His status is still being considered and the politburo is likely to discuss the issue at its meeting,” Zanu PF spokesperson Gumbo said.