Showdown looms at Zanu PF youth conference

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Oppah Muchinguri

BY KENNETH NYANGANI
DAGGERS have been drawn ahead of the Zanu PF national youth congress slated for tomorrow in Harare amid allegations of vote-buying and jostling for leadership positions.

Over 2 000 delegates from across the country’s provinces are expected to attend the youth congress.

Zanu PF national chairperson Ophah Muchinguri is set to chair the conference which was last held eight years ago.

The elective congress will result in the election of the deputy secretary for youth affairs, which is a powerful post within the party. The youth secretary will then be appointed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

The position has been vacant since Lewis Matutu was booted out of the ruling party in 2020 for gross insubordination.

Tendai Chirau has been the acting youth affairs secretary, but he can no longer contest for the post as he is now over 35 years old.

Zanu PF deputy secretary for youth affairs Tendai Chirau yesterday told NewsDay that the party will not tolerate vote-buying ahead of the youth elections.

“Vote-buying is outlawed and if you have evidence of that you are allowed to come to us,” Chirau said.

However, there are several reports that money has been changing hands as youths jostle for the deputy secretary of youth affairs post.

Dubbed the battle for money, the secretary for youth affairs post will see gold dealer John Paradza (Gutu West MP) battling it out against fuel dealer Danmore Mambondiyani.

Mambondiyani is Mutare district co-ordinating committee secretary for youth affairs.

Sources in Zanu PF yesterday told NewsDay that the two have been using their financial clout to mobilise support ahead of the watershed congress.

The youth affairs deputy secretary will be in charge of Zanu PF’s youth wing ahead of the 2023 general elections.

“We are seeing an interesting scenario where Gutu West MP John Paradza is using his money to shore up support ahead of the elections. Paradza is filthy rich and he is into gold dealing and has been dishing out money to some structures,” a source said.

“We don’t think Mambondiyani will be outclassed — remember he is into fuel dealing, and he is also using his money to garner support,” he said.

Tensions are said to be simmering in Masvingo province following accusations that Paradza has been refusing to accredit delegates who are against him.

“Paradza is one of the heavyweights in Masvingo province. He is leaving no stone unturned to get the post. He is very ambitious, remember, he is the one who is controlling Masvingo province,” an insider said.

Paradza was not available for comment yesterday.

Zanu PF Manicaland youth chairman Stanley Sakupwanya is also said to be canvassing for support for Mambondiyani.

“Zanu PF Manicaland youth chairman Stanley Sakupwanya is reportedly canvassing for support for Mambondiyani and is making sure that he removes all those people who are anti-Mambondiyani from the list since it was announced that provinces should reduce their delegations to the conference,” a source said.

Sakupwanya yesterday denied the allegations.

“I am not aware of the allegations, but in Manicaland we are preparing for the congress, and we have already started the accreditation processes. The delegation has been reduced, but I do not have the actual numbers,” Sakupwanya said.

Midlands Zanu PF youth chairman Ernest Dzoro yesterday said: “There is unity in the Midlands province, and we are going as one team. We are also going to work with other provinces to come up with the best candidate.”

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