ZANU PF presidential candidate Emmerson Mnangagwa and his close challenger MDC Alliance front-man Nelson Chamisa will headline a cast of presidential aspirants who will present their papers before the nomination court today, as Zimbabwe hurtles towards one of its most defining polls since majority rule 38 years ago.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA/EVERSON MUSHAVA/OBEY MANAYITI
Other notable faces who will contest for the presidency include former Vice-President and National People’s Party leader Joice Mujuru, Elton Mangoma (Coalition of Democrats), Dumiso Dabengwa (Zapu) and Thokozani Khupe (MDC-T), with indications more fringe parties will have presidential nominees.
Mnangagwa will contest his first election as Zanu PF leader after riding on the back of a military intervention last November that forced long time ruler Robert Mugabe to resign under pressure.
He will come up against Chamisa, who rose to power in the aftermath of founding MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s death in February.
Mnangagwa continues to look over his shoulder, with reports Mugabe is supporting a splinter group now running under the name National Patriotic Front, which has since broken into two.
But Chamisa’s MDC Alliance is reportedly also rocking, amid claims the
MDC-T component of the coalition is fielding candidates in constituencies and wards allocated to partners.
MDC-T spokesperson Thabita Khumalo said she was not in the country and could not comment on the final list of candidates.
“I have not seen the final list. Please talk to [national chairman Morgen] Komichi or [Murisi] Zwizwai,” she said.
Komichi and Zwizwai were not available for comment.
Ncube’s party spokesperson Kurauone Chihwayi said the alliance was “working”.
“As far as we are concerned, we are working well. Any issues are ironed out at the principals’ platform,” he said curtly.
Zanu PF deputy legal affairs secretary Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana said he expected Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi to be Mnangagwa’s chief election agent.
“Normally, the Justice minister serves as the President’s chief election agent. I cannot confirm, but that is the norm,” he said.
Asked if Zanu PF had dealt with outstanding issues in constituencies like Harare South and Chegutu West, where former Cabinet minister Webster Shamu faces allegations of vote rigging, Mangwana said the ruling party was ready to roll.
NPP secretary-general Gift Nyandoro confirmed Mujuru’s presidential candidature.
“Yes, we will have a presidential candidate for the People’s Rainbow Coalition (PRC) in the person of Mrs Mujuru. We have not completed the tabulation of candidates, but indications are that we will have candidates in every constituency and ward across the country. In Mashonaland West, we have candidates for all 22 constituencies and the 230 wards,” he said.
Mujuru yesterday told NewsDay that plans to form a grand coalition between her camp and the MDC-T fell through after Chamisa went slippery during the negotiations.
“People might say you must unite, yes, we tried it and approached Chamisa and, in turn, he said he was coming to talk to me, but he didn’t come.
“I just concluded that he is hamstrung because of these issues,” she said in reference to power wrangles that rocked the main opposition party following Tsvangirai’s death in February.
But Chamisa’s spokesperson Nkululeko Sibanda said Mujuru had not played her part and that even under the circumstances, there were possible technical possibilities to have the two work together.
“The president is not slippery. Nothing is impossible with negotiations, 24 hours is a long time in politics. However, there can be further technical possibilities beyond the nomination court,” he said.
“What we need is the will and president Chamisa has shown the willingness to build a winning coalition.”
Khupe’s deputy Obert Gutu said: “We are actually filing her nomination papers now. It’s game on.”
Mangoma said talks with Chamisa’s MDC Alliance had collapsed.
Zapu deputy secretary-general Mjobisa Noko also confirmed Dabengwa would contest the presidency.
Build Zimbabwe leader Noah Manyika, Alliance for People’s Agenda leader, Nkosana Moyo, Joseph Makamba Busha of Free Zimbabwe Congress and African National Party leader Egypt Dzinemunhenzva also confirmed they were in the presidential race.
Meanwhile, in Mashonaland Central, Zanu PF politburo member Munyaradzi Machacha has been accused of imposing his wife, who was defeated in primary elections, to stand under the women’s quota.
Zanu PF provincial chairman Kazembe Kazembe claimed it was nothing “more than a mix-up”.
“The provincial co-ordinating committee, which forms the provincial election directorate, met last week and agreed on the party lists which were then sent to the national elections commission. There is no one who has power to remove a winning candidate unless the candidate does not meet Zimbabwe Electoral Commission requirements,” Kazembe said.
Machacha said: “Ask the chairperson (Kazembe). I am not involved. I am not the election commission, it is a provincial matter.”