By SILAS NKALA
SIBANGILIZWE Nkomo, the son of the late Zapu founding leader Joshua Nkomo, yesterday dismissed attempts by some party members to sideline him from the opposition party’s presidential race.
Nkomo said the opposition party had since resolved that he was qualified to contest for presidency, adding that he had been a card-carrying member since 2010.
“There is nothing like that. I’m not going anywhere! These are machinations of a few misguided elements in the party,” he said.
Early this week, reports suggested that Zapu reaffirmed a contentious resolution barring presidential aspirants who have not been card-carrying members of the party for the past five years.
The congress is set for the end of October in Bulawayo.
An official memorandum from Nkomo’s office noted that the national people’s congress (NPC) meeting was held to review some resolutions on congress guidelines and not the candidature of Nkomo.
“The outcome of the meeting does not affect the candidature of Nkomo in any way. Nkomo was duly cleared by the relevant organs of the party. This was done after they were satisfied that Nkomo meets all the requirements to contest,” the memorandum reads.
Party insiders had early this week said the party resolution allegedly targeted, among others, Nkomo, who some accused of being an inheritance hunter who wanted to turn the party into a “family and clan dynasty”.
Zapu president Isaac Mabuka confirmed that the resolution was passed that only candidates who have been members of the party for five years and above should contest for positions.
He, however, said Nkomo’s district confirmed that he had been a member for more than five years.
“The resolution is there, but it was not targeted at anyone, and I heard Nkomo’s district saying he is more than five years in the party, but I am not sure about it,” Mabuka said.
“Basically, the resolution says members, who have been there for five years, can contest. The NPC had sat and made that resolution, but there were some members who were saying it was not right and the NPC sat again and that is when again most members said the resolution must stand.”
The NPC meeting held on Saturday was meant to drop the five-year mandatory clause for one to be eligible to contest the presidency.
A vote overseen by the party’s national council of elders saw 24 members of the NPC drawn from Bulawayo, Harare, Britain, the United States and South Africa voting in favour of the clause.
Eighteen members voted against the clause, according to an update given by Zapu secretary-general Strike Mnkandla.
Mnkandla said the clause was necessary to block omafikizolo (Johnny-come-latelies) and Zanu PF proxies from assuming the party’s reins.
“The idea is that when choosing people, we must ensure that someone does not come from Zanu PF and contest party positions. You cannot just have an open-door policy. As such, members must be paid up, must have served the party in various capacities for years and so forth,” Mnkandla, who is also eyeing the presidency, said.
“It (decision) simply says you cannot contest for the leadership when you have never served in any organ, in any district or in any capacity.”
But Nkomo supporters noted that the Zapu constitution does not say a member should have been in the party for five years in order to be elected to any position.
“It states that a member should have been with the party for three months to contest any position. Nkomo is our next Zapu president. Let those who want to challenge him challenge him at the congress. Nobody will bar okaNkomo from contesting for Zapu presidency,” said one supporter.
Other Zapu party members eyeing the presidency are spokesperson Iphithule Maphosa, Matabeleland South spokesperson Matthew Sibanda, Bernard Magugu and Mqondobanzi Magonya.
Mabuka, who took over after the death of Dumiso Dabengwa, opted out of the race.
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