ZANU PF will resume restructuring the once disbanded district coordinating committee (DCCs) as the party looks to garner five million votes in the 2023 polls, a party official has said.
Following chaotic district and provincial elections, which were suspended indefinitely due to violence among the faction-ridden party structures, Zanu PF’s acting national spokesperson Mike Bimha says the process will now resume under the watchful eye of the national leadership.
This comes after violence reared its ugly head in President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s political citadel, the Midlands, where his loyalists Owen Mudha Ncube and Daniel Mackenzie Ncube were mired in open confrontation over the party provincial chairperson’s position.
Initially, Mudha Ncube had shown interest in challenging the current provincial chair Mackenzie Ncube, as the battle for the control of the Midlands intensifies. But in a sudden turn of events, Mudha Ncube has given a nod to former youth league leader Edison Chakanyuka to contest Mackenzie Ncube.
“As preparation of the upcoming elections, we are restructuring through the district coordinating committee (DCC). This is an exercise aimed at quantifying our support base,” Bimha told The NewsHawks.
“The ruling party is targeting to mobilise five million votes. For now, the party has registered four million members and the list continues to grow daily. The exercise is being led by the party leadership in various provinces across the country to ensure there are proper structures at the lower level up to the provincial level. This restructuring is meant to ensure all party members are registered in their respective cells.”
Bimha said the restructuring exercise is also a reality check ahead of 2023. ‘
‘We are doing all this in preparation for 2023 harmonised elections. If we put our house in order and with a situation of having structures on paper but having nothing, we will be heading in the right direction for the upcoming elections,” Bimha said.
“In the past, we could hear that there were districts that existed only on paper, but the reality on the ground was that there were no branches. We are doing a good thing to know the number of people through a physical check,’’ he added.
Ahead of this year’s conference held in Bindura last week, faction-ridden Zanu PF has endured bloody DCC elections. Last October, Zanu PF primary polls to choose a Kwekwe Central parliamentary candidate for a by-election turned bloody following intense clashes between rival groups at the party’s Kwekwe district offices.
Police had to fire warning shots after being called to contain the situation which had spiraled out of control, as factions bludgeoned each other over the voters’ roll. Mnangagwa’s loyalists have been at the centre of mudslinging and social media smear campaigns.
Mnangagwa’s powerful allies in the Midlands, including July Moyo and Mudha Ncube, and in other provinces, were swept aside in district coordinating committee (DCC) elections that left him weaker. Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga has gained some ground of late.
DCCs had been unconstitutionally dissolved by the central committee in 2012. Amendments to the Zanu PF constitution by the central committee are “subject to ratification by congress”. Mnangagwa and Chiwenga are on a collision course, with the vice-president intervening in Masvingo.
Provincial Affairs minister Ezra Chadzamira is under fire over corruption charges which have taken a factional dimension, as the Chiwenga camp now wants him out. War veterans are leading the charge. Chiwenga has previously been in Masvingo, where he challenged Chadzamira’s leadership and associated decisions, especially on land distribution, which The NewsHawks has covered relentlessly.
Zanu PF officials say Chiwenga has been intervening in Masvingo and nationally through his key ally, former political commissar Engelbert Rugeje. Although Zanu PF has perennially been plagued by grand factionalism, the current wave of squabbles, especially among Mnangagwa’s allies in the Midlands, has turned nasty.
While Mnangagwa had somewhat consolidated power within the top brass through purges of chief security officers involved in the 2017 coup and subsequent replacement with his loyalists, different dynamics are playing out at the grassroots.
Constant horse trading led to the postponement of provincial elections following chaotic scenes fanned by factional groups, triggering frustration at grassroots level. Mnangagwa has weak control mechanisms, as shown by the ongoing infighting in Masvingo and the Midlands, with analysts saying the President needs to rein in the warring factions if his bid for 2023 is to be successful.
During last week’s conference, Mnangagwa denounced intra-party violence and factional fights, but did not name individuals fanning party divisions, bringing into question his ability to hold his lieutenants to account.
Before that, he openly condemned factionalism during the party’s politburo meeting in Harare.
“Those who wantonly violate and desecrate our party constitution’s peaceful culture and values must be dealt with decisively without fear or favour,” Mnangagwa said.