Zimbabwe: Fear Grips Zanu-PF Chefs

ZANU PF bigwigs, fearing losing primary elections to their juniors, are pushing for the party to reserve certain constituencies for them to elbow out rivals, it has emerged.

But as the jostling for seats ahead of national polls intensifies, some of the bigwigs themselves may fall by the wayside as they are now under investigation for corruption.

This also comes at a time when reports have emerged that jostling for the late Vice-President John Nkomo's post has begun.

Sources in the party said bigwigs among the politburo members and Cabinet ministers, feared embarrassment at the hands of much junior members.

They were now lobbying President Robert Mugabe, through Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa, to reserve six seats in each province for the veterans.

"Many politburo members are afraid of losing primary elections and thus do not want to be contested," said a politburo member. "They have asked the party to reserve a certain number of House of Assembly and senatorial seats for them. It appears they are getting a sympathetic ear from Mutasa."

Another politburo member said Mugabe, who turns 89 next month, has so far indicated that all officials should be contested.

However, the official said Mugabe could shift his position as there were prospects that he would be surrounded by mostly new faces unless he shielded some of his top lieutenants from competition.

Mugabe himself has already been endorsed as Zanu PF's presidential candidate in elections which are expected later this year.

But the official said although some party bigwigs could be shielded from competition, others would not be spared and would face arrest before the elections.

"All those linked to corruption have automatically disqualified themselves from the primary elections. Judging from Mugabe's tone at the Wednesday politburo meeting, we are going to see a few arrests including that of one or two cabinet ministers," said the politburo member.

The Standard understands a crack police investigating team from Harare yesterday swooped on Manicaland to investigate five top officials alleged to have extorted nearly US$1 million from diamond mining companies in the province. A senior Zanu PF official confirmed the development.

The official said arrests of suspects were now imminent after Mugabe referred the case to the police. Police spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba yesterday said she was yet to be furnished with information about the investigations.

The suspects include provincial chairman, Mike Madiro, ousted youth chairperson Tawanda Mukodza and three others.

Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Meanwhile, all is not well in Zanu PF after the death of Nkomo amid reports that jostling for his position has already begun hardly a week after he was buried.

It has emerged two different factions would today hold conflicting events in Bulawayo. Some politburo, national council and other senior party members were saying they would be at Nkomo's Worringham home in honour of the late VP.

Zanu PF secretary for Education, Sikhanyiso Ndlovu yesterday confirmed that the political leadership in Bulawayo had heard that some senior party members would be holding a rally at Stanley Square which was organised without their knowledge and approval.

He said Zanu PF leadership would boycott the rally.

"We are however shocked to hear that the rally is going ahead, something we feel is disrespectful and is an insult to us and our culture which prohibits merry-making soon after a burial. We are not attending that rally," he said.

Ndlovu said the Zanu PF national commissar Webster Shamu had been requested to cancel the rally.

"We heard that Shamu, Obert Mpofu [Mines minister] and Saviour Kasukuwere [Indigenisation minster] are coming to the rally," said Ndlovu."

"We feel this is an early campaign for the succession of Nkomo while the whole of Bulawayo is still mourning," he said.

"We are wondering what they are rushing for? We just buried our VP and people are already running around with rallies. They are coming all the way to rule here in Bulawayo when we the local leadership are here."

Kasukuwere yesterday said the fact that Nkomo was recently buried should not be a problem.

"Who did you speak to from Bulawayo? I do not know anything about the cancellation," he said.

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