Trouble brewing in ED backyard

In Gokwe, former Cabinet minister Flora Buka, who beat sitting Gokwe-Nembudziya legislator Justice Mayor Wadyajena on Friday called for a meeting that was attended by 17 party supporters, The Standard has established.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s ruling Zanu PF party is being ravaged by infighting, especially in his home province of Midlands following controversial primary elections that were marred by vote rigging and violence.

Documents obtained by this publication show that Zanu PF has since lined up a series of crisis meetings to cool simmering tensions and divisions following the chaotic primary polls.

It emerged that party members were shunning meetings called by some party candidates triggering fears of protest votes in the upcoming elections.

In Gokwe, former Cabinet minister Flora Buka, who beat sitting Gokwe-Nembudziya legislator Justice Mayor Wadyajena on Friday called for a meeting that was attended by 17 party supporters, The Standard has established.

Zanu PF held primary elections last month, but was forced to conduct re-runs in five constituencies and 27 wards two weeks later following complaints that the initial polls were rigged.

Some party heavyweights such as Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi and Wadyajena fell by the wayside.

The party received complaints of gross voter malpractices from over 150 of the 210 constituencies across the country, raising fears that this could be Zanu PF’s worst run internal poll in recent years.

Developments across the country show that the ruling party is failing to quickly heal after the primaries with some members now shunning party meetings.

There has been a very low turnout of supporters in meetings called by the new candidates, forcing the party to deploy senior members to try to unite provincial and district structures.

Midlands and Masvingo, largely viewed as presidential contest deciders, are the most hit with internal communication showing that top party member Lovemore Matuke, who is in charge of security in the politburo, is heading to Midlands on Tuesday to try and address the fissures.

Matuke will address the provincial chairman, provincial commissar and his deputy, provincial secretary for security and the top six of all the eight district coordinating committees and executive committees in Midlands.

All the 28 party candidates for the National Assembly have also been summoned to the crunch meeting.

“Please be advised that there will be a special meeting to be addressed by the national secretary for security Cde L. Matuke and members of his delegation on (Tuesday) May 16, 2023 Time: 11am Venue: The Midlands Convention Centre — Gweru,” the notice reads.

“The meeting will discuss issues in regard to challenges being encountered by constituencies or matters related to lack of cohesion after the party primaries.”

Matuke, when contacted for comment, yesterday said party spokesperson Christopher Mutsvangwa would issue a detailed statement.

Mutsvangwa was not reachable for comment.

Another notice addressed to Wadyajena, the DCC chairperson and senior provincial member, Edson Chiherenge, confirmed the party’s fear over the “activities of the CCC in Gokwe North".

“Please be advised that after noting the activities of the opposition party (CCC) in Gokwe North the province saw it fit to deploy the provincial commissar (Maud Gwenya) and her entourage to address meetings in the troubled areas you are to identify.

 “The provincial commissar will be at your disposal from the afternoon of (Thursday) May 11, 2023 to (Saturday) May 13, 2023.”

Zanu PF supporters told The Standard that most people were snubbing the party because they felt the elections were rigged.

The party’s primaries were run by Forever Associate Zimbabwe (FAZ), controlled by the Central Intelligence Organisation and Heritage, which is linked to the army.

FAZ, led by CIO deputy director general Walter Tapfumaneyi had the major say in the elections, according to a Zanu PF internal document titled Talking Points dated March 27. 

Mnangagwa has been coy about the election dates, but on Friday he indicated that the polls would be held in August.

A poll by a London-based public relations organisation, the SABI Strategy Group that was commissioned by the South African Brenthurst Foundation late last year said 53% of respondents said they would vote for the 45 year-old Citizens Coalition for Change leader Chamisa while 40% said they would vote for the incumbent.

An Afrobarometer survey in February this year said the opposition enjoyed a four point advantage (48%) over the ruling Zanu PF (44%) in voting preferences.

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