ZANU PF early this week dispatched two senior party officials to the Midlands to hold crisis meetings following political turmoil that has gripped President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s home province ahead of the August general elections.
The mayhem emanated from the holding of controversial primary elections to choose party candidates which were marred with accusations of internal vote rigging. As a result, popular party members fell by the wayside while Mnangagwa’s associates were exempted from the intra-party contestation.
Constituencies that have become political hotbeds for the party where grassroots supporters are threatening to resort to protest votes in August and snub election campaigns include Gokwe-Nembudziya.
In the area, former Midlands administration secretary for youths Justice Mayor Wadyajena lost in the internal polls to ex-cabinet minister Flora Bhuka.
In Kwekwe Central, Energy Ncube, the nephew of former State Security minister Owen “Mudha” Ncube, was imposed as an automatic candidate ahead of former city deputy mayor John Mapuranga who stood for the party in last year’s 26 March by-elections and Archbishop Kandros Mugabe, a prominent gold baron who represented the party in the 2018 general polls.
In Chiundura, there is uproar after accusations of rigging against former Vungu Rural District Council chairperson Celton Charamba, who was initially announced the winner using tabulated results before political commissar Mike Bimha overturned his victory on the final list made public in Harare. Slemani Kwidini was declared the winner.
There is also turmoil in Redcliff constituency where Local Government minister July Moyo was exempted from primary elections as well as in Gokwe Kabuyuni and Mberengwa where the same happened to former State Security minister Ncube and Joram Gumbo, the minister of state in the President’s Office responsible for Policy Implementation.
In Zhombe constituency there is massive disgruntlement after Mnangagwa’s ally Edmore Samambwa was declared an uncontested candidate despite the fact that several members had forwarded their curriculum vitae and applications to the provincial leadership led by Senator Larry Mavhima expressing interest in contesting him.
Samambwa is Mnangagwa’s long-time ally. He was suspended as Midlands Zanu PF youth chairperson in March 2016 for supporting the Mnangagwa faction at a time the faction was battling the G40 camp in the race to succeed the then president Robert Mugabe.
Amid the growing disgruntlement, Zanu PF national secretary for youths and Deputy Youths, Sports, Arts and Recreation minister Tino Machakaire was dispatched to Kwekwe on Friday last week where he held a crisis inter-district crisis meeting with youths from across the province at Mbizo Stadium. He spoke strongly about the need for “healing” after the primary elections.
“Comrades, we have come here to unite all the youths and everyone in peace. We are calling upon all our youths to be united for the sake of our party. Those who won and those who lost should have unity of purpose. We have to unite as it is not an individual who won in primaries; it is the party Zanu PF,” he said.
On Tuesday this week, another senior official, Lovemore Matuke, who is the secretary for security and deputy Public Service minister, followed up with another inter-district meeting held at the gigantic Zanu PF Winery Centre in Greenvale, Gweru.
The venue is historic in Midlands as it was built for US$6.5 million to host the 2012 Zanu PF annual conference.
An official who attended the closed-door meeting told The NewsHawks that the agenda was to pacify disgruntled members in the districts after the controversial primary elections.
“We were told to go back to our districts and reach out to supporters of losing candidates who are openly rebelling against the party and saying they will vote for the opposition in the coming elections as a way of protest or bhora musango. As you know, Midlands has 27 parliamentary constituencies and won 22 of them in 2018, making it a party stronghold.
There are therefore concerted efforts to ensure it is not shaken, and so that was agenda of the meeting.
“However, people are angry out there after they felt unpopular candidates with some influence from above were put forward as our candidates. There is a lot of disgruntlement which the party is trying to manage,” said the official.