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Zanu-PF's crisis meeting betrays vote uncertainty

by Staff reporter
25 Jun 2023 at 13:24hrs | Views
Zanu-PF held a stormy crisis meeting at the party's headquarters in Harare on Tuesday this week, the day before the nomination court sat, to plead with disgruntled members who lost in the primary elections to rally behind the party over fears they could cross over to former national commissar Saviour Kasukuwere.

The ruling party held its primary elections in March that President Emmerson Mnangagwa admitted were marred by violence, vote rigging and intimidation and sources say fissures from the polls have yet to heal.

The emergence of Kasukuwere has complicated matters for the party, after he registered to compete against Mnangagwa in the elections as an independent.

Several sitting MPs fell by the wayside in the elections run by a civic group linked to the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO), the Forever Association of Zimbabwe (FAZ) and the military-backed outfit, Heritage Trust.

However, several candidates across the country appealed against the outcome, but Mnangagwa insisted that the results would

Kasukuwere — who is a former Local Government minister and has been in self-exile in South Africa after the November 2017 coup that brought Mnangagwa into power — is seen canvassing for votes from the same pool of Zanu-PF supporters said to be disgruntled by the direction the party has taken under the current leadership.

Zanu-PF insiders told the Zimbabwe Independent that there were fears some candidates could cross the floor to Kasukuwere and split votes against Mnangagwa in the polls to be held on August 23.

The polls look set to be an acid test for Mnangagwa's quest for the second and final presidential term.

According to the insiders, about 26 disgruntled candidates have been a thorn in the flesh for the ruling party, with their supporters threatening a protest vote.

"True, the party held a crisis meeting at the headquarters on Tuesday to plead with the disgruntled candidates. It was a noholds-barred meeting," a high-ranking official said.

The nomination court sat on Wednesday.

"Several disgruntled members were invited, but a few just attended. Others found no reason to attend if that meeting was not going to change anything. But the few who attended were breathing fire."

The meeting was attended by party heavyweights and chaired by national chairperson Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri.

It was held after the provincial chairpersons raised concern that things were not well in the provinces, with winning candidates failing to mobilise support for the party.

The meeting was called to try and bring together the disgruntled members and plead with them to support the winning candidates and help mobilise for the party.

According to the insiders, all the disgruntled members complained of the imposition of candidates and victimisation. They cited Muzarabani North MP and Energy minister Zhemu Soda, whom they claimed was imposed on the people.

ICT minister Jenfan Muswere was also named as one of the candidates, who was imposed after other candidates were forced to withdraw, including the omission of his biggest opponent, Moses Ruwona from the list of candidates.

Chipinge South MP, Robert Nyemudzo, who was arrested and convicted of selling illicit beer, but is now on ZW$500 000 bail, was among the people who attended the meeting chaired by Muchinguri-Kashiri.

Nyemudzo reportedly accused Muchinguri-Kashiri of now wanting to keep him behind bars.

"Nyemudzo told Muchinguri (-Kashiri) that even if he was not wanted by the party, they should not have caused him to be arrested," the insider said.

They also mentioned Uzumba, Gutu East, Gutu North, Makoni West, Chipinge South and several others as constituencies with contentious selections.

The party had been experiencing low turnouts at rallies called for by candidates, raising concerns that the losing candidates could be telling their supporters to snub party meetings, especially in Midlands and Masvingo.

Gutu East candidate George Vhengere, who was announced as the winner by national commissar Mike Bimha, but had the results overturned in favour of Benjamin Ganyiwa, filed as an independent candidate, while Mutonho, who was suspended for campaigning before the party said they could start, also filed as an independent candidate for Gutu West.

Yesterday, Zanu-PF supporters in Gutu East held a parade to celebrate the filing of Vhengere as an independent candidate, declaring they would want to teach the Masvingo provincial leadership that "imposing candidates would not work".

The Robson Mavhenyegwa-led provincial leadership told Mnangagwa three weeks ago that Masvingo was solidly behind him and pledged to deliver all the seats.

"There has been suspicion that the disgruntled members were now eyeing working with Kasukuwere, who is set to split Zanu-PF votes in Mashonaland provinces where the ruling party used to score big," a Zanu-PF source said.

Kasukuwere filed as an independent presidential candidate and is likely to fish heavily from the Zanu-PF pond which still uses structures he set up in 2014 when he was still national commissar.

Source - the independent