The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Zanu-PF to Conduct Primaries in February

Zanu-PF will conduct primary elections in February to select candidates to represent it in harmonised polls scheduled for next year after completing drafting rules and regulations to govern the conduct of the exercise.

Although the party has not yet laid down ground rules for primaries, some aspiring candidates are already on the ground countrywide and there are reports of over 16 people vying for one constituency on a Zanu-PF ticket in some provinces.

The party's 10 administrative provinces endorsed the First Secretary and President Cde Mugabe during the 13th Annual National People's Conference held in Gweru this month as the Presidential candidate.

Zanu-PF secretary for administration Cde Didymus Mutasa yesterday said there was nothing wrong with party officials expressing interest in some constituencies.

He said those not fit to represent the party would fall by the wayside after announcing criteria for choosing candidates.

"We are considering holding primary elections in February (next year). However, we cannot disclose the criteria that we are going to use now. Everything will be made public in February," he said.

Zanu-PF this time around said was going to set some stringent conditions to be announced to screen people and come up with candidates of repute to represent in polls.

The party said it wanted to build a pool of capable leaders from where the Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, President Mugabe would appoint ministers.

According to law all ministers are supposed to be legislators representing constituencies or appointed non-constituency Members of Parliament.

"It is right that we get high quality candidates. However, there is nothing wrong with some people who think they can be leaders to campaign. Those people should, however, know that they qualify in the category the party wants not just to say I want to be a leader. Some of them will be disappointed when they realise (in February) that they do not qualify to contest in primaries," he said.

Although President Mugabe has not yet announced dates for next year's elections, some people are campaigning on the ground, while there are reports that some leaders wanted to impose their preferred candidates.

There are also reports of people who have not been in the structures of the party who have earned significant amounts of money through farming who now want to try their luck in politics.

There are donations every weekend in schools, townships, clinics and the villagers are spoiled for choice of which meeting to attend in some constituencies.

Cde Mutasa said there was nothing wrong with all the "people trying their luck", adding that that the most critical issue was for them to accept defeat after losing in primaries and work for the party to win general elections.

"As an organisation there are so many people who want to be considered as MPs and be leaders. They should know that by the end the day the party is led by a few people and not the whole gamut of people. In a constituency they should know that there will be only one MP. By the end of the day the losers should accept defeat and be ready to be led by the winners," he said.

Cde Mutasa said Zanu-PF was working hard to deal with factionalism ahead of the elections next year.

"The people leading the so called factions are people who do not accept that there are three people who are leading the party and these are President Mugabe, Vice Presidents Joice Mujuru and John Nkomo. These are leaders of Zanu-PF now. The people should observe the rules of the party and those leading the factions are wrong. My advice to them is they should observe the rules," he said.

President Mugabe has spoken strongly against factionalism that it was destroying the party.

The MDC-T has already confirmed that it will be choosing its candidates through the widely condemned confirmation method in areas where it has sitting MPs and elections in areas it lost in previous polls.

Other parties are yet to announce their methods of choosing candidates for next year's polls.

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