President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s credentials as party leader will come under the most stringent test today when Zanu PF holds hotly-contested primary elections to choose aspiring Members of Parliament and Senators across the country.
By Everson Mushava
The primaries, the first since former president Robert Mugabe’s ouster in a military coup in November last year, are already mired in controversy after some aspiring MPs were disqualified under unclear circumstances amid widespread allegations of vote-buying and rigging.
Aspiring candidates also complained about a number of new regulations introduced by the Zanu PF commissariat department led by retired army general Engelbert Rugeje.
One of the most contentious new regulation, which was suspended within days, was that contestants must hold joint campaign meetings.
“Imagine, we have been barred from campaigning and we are given only a week to do so,” one of the candidates eyeing a Harare constituency said.
“All along sitting MPs, councillors and shadow MPs and councillors were all over the constituencies campaigning under the guise of doing party work,
“And now, when we want to campaign, we are required to address joint rallies monitored by the party.
“This will be the first time we will be meeting our voters yet others were meeting them every day.”
Candidates said the situation was made worse last Wednesday when the party banned branded T-shirts when some had already invested heavily on the regalia.
“If I lose, what am I going to do with those T-shirts?” one candidate asked.
Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya-Moyo referred questions about the confusion in the primary elections to Rugeje, who was not picking calls.
Alexander Rusero, a political analyst, said the joint rallies were an attempt to present Zanu PF as a party that had reformed.
“It’s a publicity stunt because Zanu PF knows that it is under the spotlight from the international community,” he said.
“They are trying to convince the international community that it has changed as the new rules are aimed at reducing violence. Zanu PF is trying to enhance its attractiveness.”
During the Mugabe era, Zanu PF primary elections were a bitter contest between factions linked to Mnangagwa and the party’s former vice-president Joice Mujuru.