Mutare — DISGRUNTLED Zanu PF supporters have defected to the MDC-T in protest against the manner in which the district coordinating committee (DCC) elections were held, further causing more fissures in the party.
In the 2008 elections, Zanu PF lost 20 out of the 26 seats in the province due to factionalism and imposition of candidates.
The current Zanu PF restructuring exercise and election of DCCs' has been marred by chaos in several provinces, among them, Manicaland, Masvingo, Midlands and Bulawayo. rival factions belonging to Defence minister, Emmerson Mnangagwa and Vice President, Joice Mujuru, are jostling to position themselves ahead of the possible battle to succeed Mugabe.
The Manicaland elections have exposed deep-seated factionalism in the province, leading to some party members quitting to join the MDC-T after accusing the provincial executive, led by Mike Madiro of imposing candidates.
There were reports of widespread vote rigging, with the provincial executive accused of imposing candidates from the faction led by Mnangagwa against those belonging to the Mujuru faction.
Some of the disgruntled candidates and supporters from five districts namely; Mutare, Buhera, Nyanga, Chimanimani and Makoni, allegedly defected to the MDC-T after their preferred candidates were declared losers.
David Momberume from the Zanu PF Manicaland province secretariat, last week confirmed at a press conference in Mutare, that some candidates and supporters had defected to the MDC-T, protesting against the results announced by Madiro.
"They claim that the elections were rigged, but they had election agents on the ground and they were given the room to campaign," said Momberume.
"We are surprised by their decision. I met some of them a day after the announcement of the results and they told me that they had defected and even showed me the MDC-T cards. It means that these people were not our true supporters."
The supporters from the five districts camped for three days last week demonstrating for the ouster of Madiro. Some members of the Politburo and central committee called for Mugabe's intervention to save the party from further disintegrating.
"If the issue of imposition of candidates is not addressed, we are definitely going to lose to MDC-T again because people are angry," said a politburo member.
Zanu PF national political commissar, Webster Shamu, was in Mutare last week, where he admitted the imposition of candidates had thrown the party into a crisis. He also distanced Mugabe from claims that he had endorsed a list of his preferred candidates. "The president does not impose people and the politburo and central committee do not even support that list," said Shamu.
Madiro however dismissed allegations that he had imposed candidates and reversed results in districts where the Mujuru faction had won. "I do not belong to any faction. I belong to Zanu PF and I am loyal to Mugabe," he said. "Those people who accuse me of factionalism should have their heads examined."
Madiro insisted that the outcome of the Mutare DCC elections, in which Clever Muparutsa was declared winner ahead of Joseph Mavhiza, was valid.
He said Shamu had not nullified any results, but only instructed that elections in the remaining three districts Zimunya, Marange and Mutasa be suspended.
But Mavhiza maintained that he was the winner.
"Elections of this nature will only be fair if Madiro and his allies do not conduct them on their own. He was the player, referee and coach and your guess on the outcome is as good as mine," he said.
Provincial youth chairperson, Tawanda Mukodza downplayed the squabbles which had resulted in defections. He said disgruntled supporters and officials had a hidden agenda to remove the current leadership with the backing of unnamed senior politburo members.
Official says sitting Zanu PF mp now MDC-T member
MDC-T Manicaland spokesperson, Pishai Muchauraya, confirmed that there were Zanu PF supporters who had defected to his party.
"Yes, I can confirm that there is a long list of Zanu PF supporters who have joined us," he said. "They include a sitting Zanu PF MP, who has presented his credentials to us. He has openly told us that he is now an MDC-T member though not yet official."
Muchauraya refused to divulge the name of the MP saying this would endanger his life.