The chaos that characterised Zanu PF polls has revealed that the ruling party is still struggling for cohesion three years after its long-time ruler Robert Mugabe was toppled in a coup, analysts have said.
BY MOSES MATENGA
Zanu PF held the largely chaotic polls as part of efforts to resuscitate its moribund district coordinating committees (DCCs) over a week ago.
The DDCs were disbanded by the late Mugabe in 2012 as the jostling to succeed him between factions linked to his then deputies Emmerson Mnangagwa and Joice Mujuru intensified.
Mnangagwa eventually succeeded the octogenarian after the military toppled him in November 2017 and the former VP has been trying to strengthen his grip on the faction-riddled party.
The DCC polls were marred by rampant rigging, factionalism and violence.
Ballot papers were burnt in certain areas while candidates accused of belonging to a faction that was aligned to Mugabe in his last days in power known as G40 were prevented from taking part in the polls.
In Nyanga, Manicaland province, one of the candidates, Moses Gutu, was arrested for destroying ballot papers and insulting a polling officer.
In Goromonzi district, Mashonaland East province, candidates said they were threatened by some senior party officials along factional lines and labelled G40 or Gamatox and not wanted by Mnangagwa.
Gamatox was a faction that favoured Mujuru to take over from Mugabe ahead of Mnangagwa before they were expelled from Zanu PF together with their leader in 2013.
Some of the disgruntled candidates in the new DCC elections said they were intimidated and their supporters ended up either snubbing the polls or voting for candidates they were told were allegedly wanted by Mnangagwa.
“Some candidates were not allowed to stand, labelled either G40 or having been independent candidates before,” said a candidate from Goromonzi.
“The best two candidates for chairmanship and women affairs were Boniface Mutize and Beatrice Nyamupinga, who were labelled G40 and disqualified from participating in the elections.
“At counting, youth affairs and women affairs should have a maximum of 40 votes per district or station, but you had someone getting 79 votes.
“No disregard of voters will surpass this.”
Acting Zanu PF spokesperson Patrick Chinamasa said it was premature for him to comment on the polls.
“I will not comment right now because the process is still underway,” Chinamasa said yesterday.
“When it is finalised we will give you a press statement.”
But political analyst George Makoni said it was clear that the elections were characterised by vote-buying, imposition of candidates and intimidation.
“The elections also showed an ugly scene of factionalism in Zanu PF and a lot of hate speech was very common with some being labelled G40s and Gamatox.
“Again marginalised groups, including women and people with disabilities, failed to make it into the DCCs.”
University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer Tawanda Zinyama said while there was a semblance of democracy in Zanu PF, it failed the fundamental tests.
“But what we need to understand is that this is guided democracy, which is grounded in Marxism-Leninism where the thinking is that centralised democracy is the way to go,” Zinyama said.
“You don’t behave the way you want, which is why you see the national political commissar Victor Matemadanda continuously saying we have G40 remnants, which means if somebody is popular in a district and has high chances of winning and is deemed to be someone who is not toeing the party line as defined by the leaders, you are likely to be labelled so that you can be disqualified no matter how popular you are in that particular district.
“So at the end of the day, it defeats the proper functioning of an internal democracy.
“So I will say it is cosmetic window-dressing. It reflects on the existence of fractures in the party. There is no unity at all.”
University of Zimbabwe political scientist Eldred Masunungure said while only violence was lacking this time around, there were reports of rigging and other allegations.
‘This now appears to be a staple food in Zanu PF,” Masunungure said.
“They are a reflection of Zanu PF factionalism and the party appears to thrive on factionalism.
“It is a paradox but it seems factionalism makes the party robust and these are permanent features in Zanu PF,” he said.
ZBC journalist Reuben Barwe, businesswoman Sharon Mugabe and former presidential aspirant Shakespeare Maya were some of the notable figures to win in the elections.