ZANU PF has given a new lease of life to so-called party “Young Turks” and military officials interested in contesting the party’s forthcoming primary elections, it has emerged.
Report by Patrice Makova
It has also emerged that President Robert Mugabe was likely to set July 16 as the date for holding national elections, despite his insistence that polls would be held by June 29 this year.
Justice minister, Patrick Chinamasa last week said elections would be held between now and June 29 unless there were unforeseen circumstances.
The position was buttressed by Mugabe’s spokesperson, George Charamba who told the State media last week that his boss was not keen to delay the holding of elections beyond June 29 as this was tantamount to “constitutional indiscipline”.
But sources in the party said Mugabe was now agreeable to a date in July as this did not make much difference to a date in June.
“It’s all systems go now and we are now just waiting for the President to make the pronouncement, but otherwise the date is now an open secret to most senior officials,” said a politburo member.
The politburo member said after the constitutional referendum, attention would now be on the primary elections where new guidelines for the selection of candidates are expected to be endorsed soon.
He said a new requirement that only card carrying Zanu PF members who have served the party for more than five years will be allowed to contest in primary elections, has now been relaxed to accommodate Young Turks.
The politburo member said professionals and others interested in contesting the primaries, but have served the party for less than five years would now be required to write an application letter to the national commissar, Webster Shamu justifying why they should be considered.
“They [Young Turks] will be thoroughly vetted by the party and the intelligence [CIO] before being allowed to contest under the new primary elections guidelines which will be endorsed by the politburo soon,” said the official.
“Those who can prove that they have been sponsoring the party or showering presents to Mugabe during events such as the 21st February Movement are likely to be allowed to contest the primary elections.”
Another senior Zanu PF official said there was intense debate within the party as to what extent the party should open up the internal democratic arena before the primary elections expected to take place in April.
“There are members who want to implement change from within so that the party can gain ground, but they face resistance from the old guard who prefer the current status quo to remain,” said the official.
He said the new primary election guidelines would benefit several serving military and police officers who were keen to take up seats in various constituencies throughout the country.
The politburo official said there was a fight between the military and civilian component of the party.
“There are some who are of the opinion that the military should be restricted to the barracks,” he said. “But the military people are not budging, arguing that they are the ones who liberated the country.
“They want army and police officers to contest in several constituencies in what they are calling strategic redeployment. They are accusing some of the current Zanu PF officials of compromising the party’s hardline stance on several issues.”
Young Turks who were likely to benefit from the relaxing of party regulations include Affirmative Action Group’s Chamu Chiwanza, who is eyeing the Mabvuku, constituency.
Chiwanza, a protégé of prominent businessman, Phillip Chiyangwa will battle it out with Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation chairman Godwills Masimirembwa.
Chiyangwa himself, who is eyeing the Chinhoyi seat, was expected to benefit from the relaxation over a year after he was re-admitted into Zanu PF.
Marian, ex-wife of Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo was also expected to benefit from the new rules, setting the stage for a three horse race in Zvimba North between her and her former husband as well as Edwin Matibiri, a close relative of Mugabe.
Mugabe’s nephew Patrick Zhuwawo is facing a stiff challenge from Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) operative, Francis Mukwangwariwa in Zvimba East.
Zanu PF spokesperson, Rugare Gumbo was not answering his phone yesterday, while Shamu and party’s secretary for administration, Didymus Mutasa were not reachable.
NEW ENTRANTS EYE MASHONALAND CENTRAL SEATS
A myriad of new entrants are also eyeing for seats in Mashonaland Central province.
These include businesswoman, Verna Madake who is said to be eyeing Bindura South also targeted by farmer Remigio Matangira who is been viewed as an outsider in the area.
Another businessman, Kenneth Musanhi was facing stiff competition from Danny Kasukuwere, a young brother to Minister of Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment minister, Saviour Kasukuwere. Mashonaland Central governor, Martin Dinha was also said to be eyeing either one of the two Bindura constituencies.
Another Kasukuwere brother, Tongai was said to be eyeing Mt Darwin East constituency, while provincial chairperson, Dickson Mafiosi was facing stiff competition in Mt Darwin North from a police officer only identified as Superintendent Muponora.