Village Rhapsody: Mnangagwa used Zanu PF primaries to tighten grip on power

President of Zimbabwe Emmerson Mnangagwa

A number of political leaders in Africa seem keen on the idea of extending their stay in power even in countries where term limits are enshrined in the constitution.

At the same time, several African countries have seen popular uprisings in recent years, forcing long-time rulers to step down.

This has raised hopes that other presidents might be deterred from holding on to their positions beyond the time allowed by their constitutions.

It is necessary to take into account a new generation of leaders who are capable of overcoming a variety of obstacles, including the region's fragmentation, knowledge of the past and present, the transmission of the postcolonial state's founding principles, the promotion of democracy and human rights, and the establishment of fresh frameworks for freedom and peace.

But this seems to be extremely difficult for the majority of African countries' revolutionary political groups.

The dynamics of intra party conflicts that came to the during the Zanu PF primaries last weekend primarily pitting President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his deputy Constantino Chiwenga mirrored the ruling party’s success tightenening his grip on power ahead of the general elections expected between July and August this year.

The chaotic Zanu PF primary elections were marked by violence and allegations of vote manipulation, with some candidates' names missing from cell registrations and ballots not being delivered in some areas.

Some of the party's top leaders lost their positions and some newcomers will represent the party in the upcoming harmonised elections, according to the preliminary results released by Zanu PF political commissar Mike Bimha.

The rushed internal poll could have caused waves of discontentment inside Zanu PF after Mnangagwa gave the candidates short notice to campaign.

The short notice to hold Zanu PF’s primary elections might have led to logistical challenges, affecting candidates who were not expecting it soon.

Initially, the rationale behind delays in holding the primaries raised dust as some candidates claimed that their names were removed from the candidates list to pave way for Mnangagwa’s allies to go uncontested.

Zanu PF cited gross indiscipline, poor logistics and high turnout of aspiring candidates as major factors that forced them to postpone the elections for a later date, .

Looking at the results, the real game was meant to consolidate Mnangagwa’s power for his next term in office leaving Chiwenga with very limited chances of taking a presidential seat.

Even in Chiwenga’s backyard, Foreign Affairs and International Trade deputy minister David Musabayana lost to Itai Ndudzo who is believed to be loyal to Mnangagwa.

Mnangagwa’s allies July Moyo and Owen Mudha Ncube also sailed through uncontested in the Midlands province.

Finance minister Mthuli Ncube and Industry and Commerce deputy minister Raji Modi were also  uncontested and they will both represent Zanu PF in the coming harmonised elections.

Zanu PF primaries brought new candidates who defeated longtime candidates.

All constituencies in Buhera, Manicaland province, were won by newcomers such as Tafadzwa Mugwadi, the Zanu PF director of information who defeated incumbent Soul Nzuma and four others, while Joseph Chinotimba lost to Ngonidzashe Mudekunye in Buhera South.

Mnangagwa is strengthening his foundation by fielding people who are loyal to him and that is our takeaway from the primaries.

  •  Evans Mathanda is a journalist and development practitioner who writes in his personal capacity. For feedback email: [email protected] or call 0719770038 and Twitter @EvansMathanda19

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