RULING Zanu PF secretary for administration Emmerson Mnangagwa’s bid to return to mainstream politics faces a stern test in the primary elections for the Kwekwe Central constituency.
Mnangagwa needs to win the constituency to place himself on a firm footing against other Zanu PF luminaries eyeing top posts in the party’s hierarchy ahead of its December congress.
Highly placed sources in Kwekwe told the Zimbabwe Independent that a retired Brigadier Mavenge had already started canvassing support in readiness for the primary.
“Brig Mavenge of Mbizo area has already started canvassing support and has declared that he will be contesting in the primary,” the sources said.
“What makes the situation interesting is that Mnangagwa has been declaring himself as the candidate for the Kwekwe constituency at meetings he has been addressing since July at Amaveni Hall.”
Sources said Mnangagwa has been visiting Kwekwe every weekend, addressing meetings of the party’s district structures and promising assistance to the needy.
Sources also said an officer commanding 5 Engineers Squadron at Kondoroza in Kwekwe, a Lt Colonel Undenge, was also understood to be eyeing the constituency. He has reportedly resigned his commission to enter the political ring.
Zanu PF is understood to have scheduled the party’s primary elections for October so that candidates in next year’s general election can be involved in the formulation of campaign strategies at the congress.
Mnangagwa and a number of other Zanu PF bigwigs, who were consigned to the political wilderness in the landmark 2000 parliamentary election by the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), are reportedly keen to bounce back.
Mnangagwa wants to recover Kwekwe Central from the MDC’s Blessing Chebundo.
Mnangagwa was widely expected to be elected vice-president at the forthcoming congress to replace the late Simon Muzenda until the Women’s League congress last week resolved to push for a woman candidate. Zanu PF external affairs secretary Didymus Mutasa has also expressed an interest in the job.
Mnangagwa needs to prove he has popular support if he is to recover from political defeats in 1999 – by John Nkomo – and 2000 – by the MDC.
Meanwhile, reports reaching the Independent say serious intra-party clashes have erupted in some constituencies with Young Turks threatening to unseat sitting MPs.
Zanu PF’s own The Voice newspaper said this week “very dirty and undesirable things” were taking place in Manicaland, Masvingo, Mashonaland West, Matabeleland and Bulawayo.
In Masvingo North, Foreign Affairs minister Stan Mudenge reportedly complained that Major Kudzai Mbudzi was using dirty tactics to wrestle the constituency from him whilst a fierce battle looks inevitable in Masvingo Central following Eddison Zvobgo (jnr)’s indication that he is eyeing the seat.