ZANU PF national political commissar, Engelbert Rugeje, yesterday flexed his political muscle and blocked Mashonaland Central Provincial Affairs minister Martin Dinha from campaigning for Mazowe North constituency, saying the ruling party only recognised the candidature of Campion Mugweni.
By Simbarashe Sithole
Rugeje told party supporters at a rally at Bare Growth Point in Chiweshe that Mugweni was Zanu PF’s sole candidate for Mazowe North. This came after Dinha had refused to recognise Mugweni’s victory in party primary elections held last month citing irregularities.
“In this new dispensation, our President (Emmerson Mnangagwa) is saying the voice of the people is the voice of God, hence the voice of people here is saying Mugweni whom you voted is your (aspiring) Member of Parliament,” he said, to thunderous applause from party supporters.
“We are saying primary elections are over, all of you as Zanu PF should unite and defeat the opposition parties in the race. All the unethical things that were happening here were monitored and we should not repeat the same mistake.”
Mugweni, who arrived at the rally later in the company of provincial chairman Kazembe Kazembe and hundreds of supporters, nearly disrupted the proceedings as they broke into song and dance on arrival at the growth point.
Rugeje was in Mazowe West constituency last Sunday, where he endorsed Kazembe as party candidate after Tafadzwa Musarara had refused to recognise his defeat in the primaries.
In a related development, Rugeje yesterday urged the rival party members to bury their differences and mobilise extensively for Mnangagwa’s campaign rally in Bindura on Wednesday.
“Mazowe you are superb, I want to inform you that the President is coming in your province on Wednesday. May you come in your numbers and meet the President as we put an icing on our campaign for the forthcoming elections, “Rugeje said.
But, his call for peace appeared to have fallen on deaf ears as Dinha’s suspected supporters went on a rampage at the rally assaulting Mugweni’s allies and some police officers who battled to restore sanity.
In another controversial development, Chief Makope born Jacob Mapirinjanja publicly rallied his subjects to vote for Mnangagwa in the July 30 general elections.
Giving a vote of thanks after Rugeje’s speech, Makope said: “We are urging you to refrain from violence while at the same time advising you not to vote for other opposition political parties. As children of Zanu PF, I believe after all has been done despite all the misunderstandings that have now been cleared, let us all unite and stand with Mnangagwa.”
Traditional leaders have come under fire from civil society groups and opposition parties for going to bed with Zanu PF.
Chiefs’ Council president Fortune Charumbira currently faces imprisonment for defying a High Court order compelling him to publicly withdraw his statement where he declared his allegiance to the ruling party.