ZANU PF’s decision to allow a reconstitution of its provincial executive turned Masvingo into the latest factional battleground as the intriguing battle to succeed President Robert Mugabe rages on.
BY ELIAS MAMBO/RICHARD CHIDZA
This comes amid clashes between Masvingo interim chairperson Joram Gumbo and the national political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere over the results of the elections.
Gumbo, on Friday declared the incumbent Ezra Chadzamira was the winner after polling more than 12 000 votes against Mutero Masanganise’s 4 888.
Chadzamira is aligned to the Team Lacoste faction which is linked to Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, while Masanganise is reportedly being sponsored by the rival G40 camp.
Kasukuwere is reportedly one of the G40 proponents which has coalesced around first lady Grace Mugabe and have vowed to derail Mnangagwa’s ascendency to the presidency.
Zanu PF is currently torn at the centre as the race to succeed Mugabe who turned 93 last week reaches unprecedented levels.
However, Kasukuwere said on radio on Friday that the elections had to be held again while Gumbo insisted that the results stood.
Gumbo said he would inform the politburo on why other districts did not vote.
Last week in an explosive provincial meeting, Gumbo said elections of the whole Masvingo executive were to be held last Thursday.
However, on the eve of the election, Kasukuwere unilaterally stopped the elections of other organs such as the women and the youth leagues.
Sources said Gumbo objected to the order and threatened to continue with the elections despite the midnight memo.
“Gumbo had said elections were to be continued despite Kasukuwere’s memo. However, the stationery that was sent from Harare on Thursday only served for the holding of polls for the chairperson of the main wing,” said the source.
“Gumbo was also given chairpersons and officials from other provinces to help him conduct elections.”
Sources said the drama began when officials from Mashonaland Central and Harare provinces allegedly tried to sabotage the elections as their preferred candidate, Masanganise, faced defeat.
There are allegations that some officials were caught trying to rig elections in Chivi North.
“At Mandamabwe deputy Indigenisation minister Mathias Tongofa had to close the polling station after allegations of vote rigging when a team allegedly gave voters three ballot papers instead of one,” said the source.
In an interview with The Standard, Tongofa refused to divulge the names of officials who were allegedly caught trying to rig.
“The process went on well despite some logistical problems. We had to make sure the election was held fairly,” he said.
In Mwenezi, the Zanu PF officials claimed Harare provincial political commissar Shadreck Mashayamombe allegedly stopped the elections after hearing that Masanganise had lost at one of the polling stations.
“Mashayamombe ordered that vehicles that had left Rutenga should return, claiming the roads were bad,” another official said.
“Not all roads are bad but he called off the election. He had heard that Masanganise got one vote against 67 in a certain ward.
“It was not raining in Rutenga but elections were stopped abruptly after Mashayamombe tried to resist that police officers accompany vehicles that were taking polling officers to various stations.”
Zanu PF Central Committee member Tafadzwa Shumba, who was in charge of elections in Mwenezi said: “We have 60 districts but surely a lot of them were accessible except a few.
“We expected elections in areas that had no rains instead of totally cancelling them.”