Violence forces Zanu PF to postpone primaries

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BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA/JAIROS SAUNYAMA

ZANU PF was yesterday forced to postpone its primary elections from today after violence broke out in several provinces as aspiring candidates for the March 26 polls canvassed for votes.

The primary elections will now be held tomorrow.

Zanu PF also barred several candidates from contesting in the primaries after they were linked to the skirmishes and vote-buying to secure tickets to represent the party.

The party’s recently-held provincial elections were also marred by violence and allegations of vote-rigging.

Zanu PF political commissar Mike Bimha confirmed the postponement of the primaries which he said would now be observed by the party’s politburo and central committee members.

Provinces will provide their own polling officers.

“The party has deployed the politburo, central committee, national elections commissioner and secretariat from party headquarters to take overall charge of the conduct of both the National Assembly and local authority primaries. Provincial leadership should take instruction and guidance from the politburo members deployed to their respective provinces,” Bimha said in a statement.

Party insiders said the elections were postponed to give the party time to vet its candidates following the violent skirmishes.

The party yesterday disqualified two Kwekwe Central constituency aspiring candidates, Bishop Kandros Mugabe and Energy Ncube, for violence and vote-buying.

Ncube is related to the former State Security minister Owen Ncube, who was booted from his government post for reportedly presiding over the ruling party’s violent Midlands provincial elections.

The former minister was accused of bussing machete-wielding youths to the The Winery, a Zanu PF property on the outskirts of the Midlands capital, where they allegedly threatened everyone at the venue who opposed the ex-Cabinet minister.

Yesterday, violent skirmishes were also recorded in Chinhoyi, where a vehicle belonging to aspiring local government candidate, Zacharia Pumhayi, was damaged by youths aligned to his rivals.

In Mashonaland East, two aspiring candidates were disqualified from contesting.

Noah Mangondo was barred, for the second time, from contesting in the Murewa South constituency. Ex-soldier Richard Mavhunga was also barred from contesting in the Marondera Central constituency.

The two were disqualified on the basis that they contested as independent candidates in the 2018 harmonised elections.

Addressing a Mashonaland East provincial co-ordinating committee meeting in Marondera yesterday, provincial chairperson Daniel Garwe said disqualified candidates should approach the national headquarters for redress.

The province has three parliamentary and 10 ward seats vacant.

Zanu PF spokesperson Christopher Mutsvangwa referred questions to the Bimha, who was not picking calls.

By-elections will be held to fill 28 parliamentary and 105 local authority seats that fell vacant mostly after the MDC-T recalled MDC Alliance councillors and legislators, and as a result of deaths.

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