Voting for the Zanu PF national youth executive was yesterday characterised by massive vote-buying and last-minute canvassing as the two main factions in the party fought rag-tag wars to win the coveted deputy secretary for Youth Affairs post.
BY PHILLIP CHIDAVAENZI AND ELIAS MAMBO
Zanu PF youths who spoke to The Standard said cash passed hands the night before the elections, while canvassing continued even as voting began.
As the ballot war intensified, one of the two top contestants, Lewis Matutu from Midlands could not stand the heat and chickened out at the last minute, making way for Tongai Kasukuwere from Mashonaland Central. Kasukuwere took the stage to lock horns with Kudzai Chipanga from Manicaland.
Tongai is Environment and Water minister Saviour Kasukuwere’s younger brother.
The winner automatically assumes a politburo position as the youth league’s deputy secretary. The youth league top position, held by Absolom Sikhosana was not contested as it is appointed by President Robert Mugabe.
Only five out of the 10 Zanu PF provinces had voted by 7PM last night as the process which began in the afternoon, proceeded at a snail pace.
Party heavyweights including cabinet ministers, politburo, Central Committee members and provincial chairpersons could be seen milling around Rainbow Towers and Harare International Conference Centre (HICC) lobbying for their preferred candidates.
Sources said Tongai was being sponsored by the faction linked to Justice minister, Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Some youths from Midlands openly campaigned for Kasukuwere as they chanted slogans in his favour ahead of the voting. Flyers urging the party youths to throw their weight behind Kasukuwere and Matutu who was now gunning for the post of National Secretary for Administration, were being distributed.
Chipanga on the other hand had the backing of a rival faction linked to Vice President Joice Mujuru. The Makoni MP also had the support of Presidential Affairs minister and Secretary for Administration, Didymus Mutasa.
Zanu PF national chairman Simon Khaya Moyo lambasted youths buying votes ahead of the election. He said the ruling party was not for sale and such conduct was against President Robert Mugabe’s position that Zanu PF members belonged to the party and not to individuals.
“Zanu PF is not a shopping mall where people use money to buy positions,” Khaya Moyo said. “The party is not for sale. The party is not a commodity.”
Sources said on Friday night money changed hands as the youths clandestinely sought to determine the outcome of the elections.
When Zanu-PF legislator for Mhondoro-Ngezi Mike Gava made a presentation of the committee report on the state of the party, the youthful legislator said corruption — characterised by vote-buying — was now rife and tearing Zanu PF apart.
“There is a lot of vote-buying and these are the same people that will end up in the country’s parastatals fuelling corruption,” he said.
Gava said some party leaders were now using the media to dress each other down when they had differences when such issues were supposed to be thrashed out behind closed doors.
Several Zanu PF parliamentarians could be seen loitering in the fringes of the activities and sources said their presence indicated that there were also seeking to influence the outcome of the election.