BY MOSES MATENGA
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday hinted that by-elections may be held soon and called on Zanu PF to get prepared, while observing World Health Organisation (WHO) safety guidelines on COVID-19.
Mnangagwa told his Zanu PF party politburo members that they should leave nothing to chance in ensuring victory in the upcoming by-elections and the 2023 harmonised elections.
His statement came at a time when the opposition MDC Alliance, independent electoral watchdogs and stakeholders have been pressuring government and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) to lift the ban on by-elections imposed by Vice-President and Health minister Constantino Chiwenga last year citing COVID-19 fears.
While opposition party gatherings have been crushed by police, Mnangagwa’s party has been able to hold meetings, raising suspicion that COVID-19 rules were being applied selectively.
“Preparations for by-elections must be conducted within the confines of internal democratic practices and provisions of our party constitution, while at the same time observing WHO protocols,” Mnangagwa said.
Most by-elections were necessitated by the recall of MDC Alliance MPs and councillors by the Douglas Mwonzora-led MDC-T after the Supreme Court in March last year nullified Nelson Chamisa’s leadership of the MDC-T. Since then, 41 MDC Alliance MPs and over 80 councillors have been recalled by both MDC-T and Lucia Matibenga’s People’s Democratic Party.
Mnangagwa called for activation of Zanu PF party structures so that they prepare for the elections.
“Structures must remain intact. We cannot approach the next election with an assumed membership base. It is fundamental that we know the figures of those who will potentially vote for us at disaggregated ward, constituency and provincial levels. Nothing must be left to chance,” he said.
“The 2023 harmonised general elections are fast approaching. Let us, therefore, continue tightening our belts and diligently implementing programmes with a greater sense of urgency.
“Our people and party membership must be kept informed, mobilised and motivated to be productive towards improving their plight and the achievement of the goals we set out in the 2018 people’s manifesto.”
MDC Alliance secretary for elections Jacob Mafume said: “The tragedy is he (Mnangagwa) is undermining the Constitution everyday. By-elections are supposed to operate by operation of law. Every other country in the region has been holding elections and by-elections when they are due despite the presence of COVID-19. It is only in this country where we have suspended the operation of democracy because of a biological disease,” Mafume said.
“They are the ones who have been running away from the people. We are ready and we will beat them in the by-elections,” Mafume said.
Mnangagwa applauded the Zanu PF’s Herbert Chitepo School of Ideology for implementing a “comprehensive and robust training programme for the district co-ordinating structures and new cadres joining the party”.
He warned divisive elements in his party that they would be exposed and flushed out if they continued disrespecting the party constitution.
“The ideals of our party, particularly patriotism, loyalty, discipline and honesty must remain engrained in all of us. There is no room for malicious divisive, corrupt and retrogressive tendencies within our rank and file membership,” he said.
“Such elements should be exposed,” he added.
On the terror attacks in Palma, Cabo Delgado province in northern Mozambique, Mnangagwa said Sadc was acting on technical deployment and urged his party structures to be on high security alert to avoid attacks.
“An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us, united we stand and hence, we cannot sit back and allow acts of insurgency to continue without a robust regional response.
“Last week, I, therefore, attended the Sadc Double Troika Summit in Mozambique, where the regional bloc resolved to immediately make technical deployments towards restoring peace and stability,” Mnangagwa said.
“Government is currently working with the Mozambican authorities to establish the number of our nationals who were entrapped during the attack of Palma town, on March 24 2021.
“Against this disturbing background, the party structures across all provinces must ensure that our communities are on high security alert. Let us continue to jealously guard the peace and stability that is existing in our country.”
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