8 May 2013

Zimbabwe: Rifts Widen in Zanu-PF Ahead of Elections

Campaigning for the right to represent ZANU PF in forthcoming elections is said to be in full throttle.

No names have yet been publicised of who will contest in the primaries, in a process that has created serious infighting in the former ruling party.

ZANU PF's Central Committee and Politburo met over the weekend and finally adopted internal guidelines for the yet to be announced primary elections, after weeks of haggling and fire-fighting, especially over toning down tempers in the volatile Manicaland province.

Political commentator and ZANU PF insider, Livingston Dzikira, said there is no political party which will go to elections without some squabbles, and challenges will be found in all political parties.

The latest developments have also exposed internal divisions over who will succeed 89 year old President Robert Mugabe.

In a rare sign of public outrage over this issue Zanu PF's secretary for Administration, Didymus Mutasa, was quoted in the weekly Standard newspaper attacking Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa for openly challenging Vice President Joice Mujuru.

"We all agreed unanimously. Now we are surprised that there are some people like Mnangagwa who are now leading another faction claiming that they want to take over the party. Anyone who objects to the legitimacy of Mai Mujuru as the vice president of the party, then that person does not belong to Zanu PF," Mutasa said.

Dzikira said Mutasa was specifically talking about Mujuru's vice presidency, which is a unanimous decision of ZANU PF, and was not referring to who will succeed Mugabe.

"The contest of who takes over from President Mugabe has not even opened and the statement that has officially been given by ZANU PF is that discussion is not there because there are no vacancies," the commentator added.

The ZANU PF secretary for administration accused members of the Mnangagwa faction as being "sell outs who are perpetuating the destruction of the party," even though he is in the centre of faction fighting in Manicaland province.

Mutasa and Women's league boss Oppah Muchinguri are said to be leading splinter groups of the party, resulting in appointing a new provincial leadership led by Zimbabwe's Ambassador to Cuba, John Mvundura, who will now become the Manicaland provincial chairperson with Retired Lieutenant General Mike Nyambuya as his deputy.

Muchinguri welcomed the new provincial leadership brought in to resolve the challenges facing the party, which only won 6 out of the 26 parliamentary seats in Manicaland in 2008. She is quoted in the state controlled Herald newspaper saying: "What we want now is to win the elections. People must mature."

ZANU PF has also been forced to change the provincial leadership in Bulawayo as a result of internal disputes, with the appointment of Callistus Ndlovu as chairperson. The party lost all 12 parliamentary seats in Bulawayo in the last elections.

While it has been easy for ZANU PF to call for general elections to be held at the end of June it has not been easy for the party to call for its own primary elections.

All the political parties in the inclusive government are yet to start primary elections.

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