Some youths in Mashonaland provinces are reportedly lobbying for President Robert Mugabe’s son Robert Junior to be nominated for an influential position in the Zanu PF National Youth League.
BY EVERSON MUSHAVA /BLESSED MHLANGA / NUNURAI JENA
The party took to the ballot yesterday to select its Youth League’s national executive members amid reports that there are serious manoeuvres to nominate Mugabe’s son.
The Standard is reliably informed youths from Mashonaland West, Mugabe’s home province and Mashonaland Central where the First Family has a vast business and agricultural empire, were behind the push.
Although the drive had not gained traction in other provinces as of yesterday morning, the youths advocating for the selection of Robert Jnr (21) to the influential Youth League claimed the move would stabilise the party which is torn by factional fights as the race to succeed Mugabe gains momentum.
“The youths from Mashonaland West and Central provinces have been lobbying for the nomination of Robert Junior to the post of secretary for either security or defence ahead of the youth league conference,” a party insider told The Standard yesterday.
“The presence of Robert Junior in the youth league is viewed as a step towards bringing together the warring factions.”
The Zanu PF insiders said Robert Junior had by Friday not yet been approached to take up the post despite the serious lobbying within the youth league.
The development comes after First Lady Grace was endorsed to lead the Women’s League two weeks ago under the guise of ending factionalism in the party.
Zanu PF Youth League boss Absalom Sikhosana could not be reached for comment yesterday. Spokesperson for the First Family, Lawrence Kamwi could also not be reached for comment on the developments.
Grace’s nomination to lead the powerful Zanu PF Women’s League is viewed by some in the party as a game changer in the party’s factional succession fights.
However, according to recently announced Zanu PF election guidelines, both Grace and Robert Junior do not qualify to contest as they have not served in the party for at least five years in the provincial structures.
Robert Junior is said to be currently pursuing studies in Asia.
Already, the process to select youth league nominees has allegedly seen factional battles as youths aligned to Mujuru and Mnangagwa camps were strategically positioning themselves to win elections at a youth conference set to start on Thursday.
For the post of deputy secretary for youth affairs, Midlands province and Midlands State University student Luis Matutu will battle it out with Kudzai Chipanga from Manicaland.
Matutu is reportedly linked to the Mnangagwa faction while Chipanga is said to have the backing of Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa.
Both Matutu and Chipanga triumphed in their respective provinces yesterday.
“I am confident that I am going to be among the four candidates to represent the Youth League at the national conference,” Matutu said.
On the nomination of Robert Junior, Matutu said he had not heard of it but would welcome it as a way of thanking President Mugabe over what he had done to empower the youths.
“I personally would welcome it as a way of thanking his father [President Mugabe] for what he has done to uplift us,” Matutu said.
Chipanga also expressed confidence in winning the mandate to represent youths at national level. On the issue of Mugabe Junior’s appointment, he said it would be a welcome move but added that he was not qualified to comment since that was an issue best handled by the relevant province.
Sports and Culture deputy minister Tabeth Kanengoni reportedly failed to make it in Mashonaland Central. The province’s candidates are Dugmore Chimukoko, Obert Mutasa, Paulleta Musonza and Joseph Dendere.
In Bulawayo, Kumbulani Mlilo, the current Youth League secretary for transport, reportedly fell by the wayside.
Meanwhile, at a youth meeting in Chinhoyi, Mashonaland West yesterday, Tawanda Tungamirai, son of the late national hero, retired Air Marshal Josiah Tungamirai, was disqualified from contesting in the forthcoming elections as he failed to meet the stringent requirements of serving in the provincial structures for five years.
Mike Gava was given the green light to battle it out with Lotius Tarusikirwa for the Youth League commissariat.
Mhondoro-Ngezi MP Mike Gava, will face stiff competition from Tarusikirwa for the right to represent Kadoma district in the provincial elections set for Tuesday.
Memory Chitsata will face off with Innocent Makuyana in Makonde while Margret Kadyamatimba from Kariba and Tungamirai Mutonhodza of Hurungwe were unopposed.
Names of those who prevailed at district level will be presented for further screening at provincial level between today and Tuesday before they are endorsed by the congress to be held in Harare between August 7 and 10.
Women will contest for tickets to the national executive of the Women’s League on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, preparations for the election of five Midlands Zanu PF women into the central committee turned dirty with allegations that members of the electoral college in Gokwe North “disappeared” Friday night. Sources said there were fears that they were abducted on their way to Gokwe South for accreditation.
In the elections, Minister of State in the President’s Office, Flora Buka, is expected to face stiff competition from Melina Majubane.
Majubane said she was failing to locate members of the electoral college alleging that they were “kidnapped” by rivals, prompting her to make a police report.
“Certain people who are in this election kidnapped the electoral college, members and took them to a house in an attempt to ensure that we fail to get access to them ahead of the elections. We had to report the case to the police and investigations are still ongoing,” claimed Majubane.
Zanu PF Midlands provincial chairman Jason Machaya said he had not received reports of the purported kidnapping.
“Our position is that these elections should go unhindered and women should be allowed to elect people of their own choice without any intervention or meddling from anyone,” he said.