THE battle to take over Zanu PF provincial executive positions is hotting up amid accusations and counter-accusations of vote buying and imposition of candidates by the various factions and contestants, six days before the party's restructuring exercise.
Sources said some factions have released huge sums of money to allegedly buy votes in Saturday's elections.
"One of the factions will this Sunday [today] start distributing money to various Members of Parliament loyal to it for use during the campaign," said a Zanu PF politburo member. "This money which we understand originated from South Africa is purely to buy votes."
The factions loyal to Vice-President Joice Mujuru and Justice minister, Emmerson Mnangagwa are positioning their members for the influential provincial executive positions as the battle to succeed 89-year-old President Robert Mugabe rages on.
Another faction claims to be only loyal to Mugabe.
Both Mujuru and Mnangagwa have repeatedly denied leading factions or harbouring presidential ambitions.
But another senior Zanu PF official said factions were openly lobbying for their members with "kangaroo" meetings being frequently held at offices of prominent Cabinet ministers to strategise for the elections.
He said shocks were expected in a number of provinces where stiff competition is anticipated between the incumbents and other challengers.
New faces were expected to take over in provinces such as Mashonaland West, Masvingo, Matabeleland South and North.
But the chairpersons in Manicaland, Mashonaland East and Central. are expected to retain their positions.
In Mashonaland West, war veteran, farmer and businessman, Blessing Geza Runesu yesterday confirmed that he would contest the chairmanship in order to bring a breath of fresh air to the hugely divided province.
The Sanyati legislator said people in Mashonaland West approached him to stand for the post, so that he could unite people and extend the various developmental projects he was embarking on in his constituency to other areas in the province.
But Runesu, popularly known as Bombshell, bemoaned disunity and rampant vote buying, which he said does not augur well with a "people oriented" party.
"People should not use money to buy themselves to the top of the party. The bourgeoisie [the middle class]must not take advantage of the poor by buying them a few beers in order to get elected," he said.
Runesu will face stiff competition from businessmen, Temba Mliswa and Phillip Chiyangwa, as well as Nimrod Chiminya, a brother to Local Government minister, Ignatius Chombo.
Mliswa was yesterday said to be busy campaigning together with Constance Shamu, the wife of national commissar, Webster Shamu.
In Manicaland, the provincial coordinating committee last Saturday endorsed acting chairperson John Mvundura to take over as substantive leader of the province.
MATUKE STILL IN
The politburo official said the battle for Masvingo where provincial chairperson Lovemore Matuke was last week suspended on the eve of elections has taken a new twist.
"Those who suspended Matuke jumped the gun. They did not consult the politburo. As far as most of us are concerned, this was a personal decision," he said.