16 January 2013

Zimbabwe: Gnashing of Teeth in GNU

A NUMBER of bigwigs from both ZANU-PF and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) formations could be on their way out of the legislative assembly and government following the emergence of intense jockeying for parliamentary seats, especially from the so-called young Turks, The Financial Gazette heard this week. Competition for the right to represent the two main parties, ZANU-PF and the MDC-T, has already started even though both parties are still to come up with dates for primary polls.

The jockeying is more intense in ZANU-PF where the leadership is under pressure, including from the military and the war veterans, to rejuvenate the party and improve its electoral chances after nearly losing power in 2008 to the MDC-T.

For long, ZANU-PF's old guard has maintained a monopoly as office bearers at various levels, but rising unpopularity marked by its first ever loss of its majority in Parliament five years ago came as a wake-up call.

The performance of young Turks appointed to government in 2009 has however, given hope that the injection of new blood could help the party appeal to new voters.

More and more, these young Turks in Cabinet are being strategically elevated to complement President Robert Mugabe as the face of the party during campaigns.

Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Minister, Saviour Kasukuwere, even though unpopular in some circles, has become the face of the party's new revolution, the empowerment drive, placing him high up in the propagation of ZANU-PF's agenda.

Tourism and Hospitality Minister Walter Mzembi is also at the forefront of efforts to rebrand the country, giving hope to the party's young Turks, especially the moderates.

The party's heavyweights face double trouble: They must face young candidates during primary polls and those that will survive the onslaught will have to fight for a place in Cabinet should the party win.

The majority of the current crop of ZANU-PF ministers has served since 1980 with President Mugabe increasingly criticising some of them as dead wood and corrupt.

In Manicaland, it is understood that the party's secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa's Headlands seat is being eyed by Chris Chingosho, a top civil servant, while in Mutare west, Manicaland Governor and Resident Minister Chris Mushohwe is expected to be challenged by businessman and former Air Zimbabwe board chairperson, Jonathan Kadzura.

Justice and Legal Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa is expected to square off with Agricultural Rural Development Authority chairperson Basil Nyabadza. Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Joseph Made is expected to face a top Air Force of Zimbabwe female officer only identified as Makuyahundi.

Signalling the shifting political winds, some children of the party's leading nationalists would be entering the political fray this year, with hopes of greater roles and carrying the torch forward.

The son of the late national hero Eddison Zvobgo, Eddison Zvobgo Jr, a lawyer, is interested in the Masvingo central seat currently held by the MDC-T's Tongai Matutu, who is also the Deputy Minister for Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment.

The late vice president Simon Muzenda's son Tongai is gunning for a seat in Gutu. Zimpapers chairperson and medical doctor, Paul Chimedza is also positioning himself for a seat in Gutu.

During the 2008 synchronised elections, Chimedza's parliamentary ambitions were thwarted after a seat that he was eyeing was reserved for a female candidate. Another lawyer, Ted Muzorodze is eyeing Masvingo West as is the case with a businessman identified only as Mumbire.

Mzembi's Masvingo south seat is also being eyed by a Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) operative from Manicaland whose identity could not be immediately verified.

Other young Turks with parliamentary ambitions in Masvingo province include Edmund Mhere and former ZIFA chief executive, Henrietta Rushwaya.

A clash of the titans is also expected between Josiah Hungwe and Samuel Mumbengegwi.

In Mashonaland East, leading lawyer Jonathan Samkange is considering running for Parliament to give the party more experts in the legal field.

In Mashonaland West, Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo is battling stiff challenge from businessman Edwin Matibiri in Zvimba North.

Also in Mashonaland West another young Turk Temba Mliswa, the chairman of an empowerment pressure group, the Zimbabwe Economic and Empowerment Council is eying Hurungwe while President Mugabe's nephew Patrick Zhuwao is facing a stiff challenge from CIO operative Francis Mukwangwariwa in Zvimba East.

More surprises are said to be in store once the party has officially announced dates for the primary elections.

In Harare province, a number of the party's young Turks and some ambitious youths are lining up for some seats in the capital city.

Coxwell Chigwana, an officer in the President's Office, is likely to replace Amos Midzi as a candidate for Epworth. It has been suggested that Midzi could get a diplomatic posting to Indonesia.

Danny Masukuma, a ZANU-PF activist who recently filed a court challenge against the current constitutional process, wants to contest in Hatfield while Tongai Nheta, the ZANU-PF youth secretary for Harare is alleged to be keen on contesting in Warren Park.

Jimmy Kunaka, the controversial provincial youth leader, is said to be eyeing Mbare constituency where he lost in 2008 when he stood as a council candidate.

Goodwills Masimirembwa, the chairman of the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation, which holds much of the Marange diamond claims, is eyeing the Tafara/Mabvuku constituency while Antony Jongwe, a human resources practitioner, is expected to contest in Kuwadzana.

In the three Matabeleland provinces there are also moves to remove "deadwood" as ZANU-PF's man of the moment in the provinces, Obert Mpofu, the Minister of Mines and Mining Development crisis-crosses the region identifying new blood for the party.

It is understood Mpofu has lined up young Turks to challenge MDC candidates particularly in Matabeleland North, his home province.

Bulawayo is proving to be a headache for ZANU-PF with young Turks finding it extremely difficult to challenge the old guard, especially members of the old ZAPU who joined ZANU-PF after the consummation of the Unity Accord in 1987.

Mutasa told The Financial Gazette last week that his party will definitely win the next elections.

"ZANU-PF will continue ruling this country. We are going to win," he said.

Bigwigs in the MDC-T are also under pressure hence frantic efforts to push through a confirmation process that insulates them from competition. The process has widely been condemned as undemocratic since it protects some incompetent, long-serving members.

The MDC-T Youth Assembly has categorically stated it wants at least 30 percent representation in the new Parliament.

The assembly's president, Solomon Madzore has thrown his hat into the ring and intends wrestling the Dzivaresekwa seat from incumbent, Heneri Dzinotyiweyi, the Minister of Science and Technology.

Gift Chimanikire, the Deputy Minister of Mines and Mining Development, faces a challenge in Southerton from Emmanuel Chimwanda, a former police commissioner.

There is also disgruntlement over the leadership of the MDC-T party in the three Matabeleland provinces where Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe is said to be under fire over the violence which rocked the party in the region ahead of the party's congress three years ago.

Gorden Moyo, the Bulawayo provincial chairperson, is also said to be facing his waterloo in the primaries. He is a non-constituency legislator in the coalition government.

There is also tussling for positions even among the small fish.

Councillors want to topple sitting legislators in most constituencies under the MDC-T ticket. For instance, in Pumula, Artwell Sibanda, an MDC-T activist and aide to the Speaker of Parliament Lovemore Moyo, intends wrestling the seat from incumbent, Albert Mhlanga.

The Welshman Ncube-led MDC has kept its cards close to the chest but indications are that sitting legislators and appointees such as secretary general Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga would not be contested during primary elections. The party is due to open nominations for primary election candidates before the end of this week.

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