HARARE – Ray Kaukonde, Zanu PF’s incumbent Mashonaland East provincial chairperson, faces a challenge from war veteran leader Philemon Mutongi in polls for the provincial chairperson due next week.
Kaukonde was expected to retain his post unchallenged, but Mutongi filed his papers at the last minute, paving way for him to contest Kaukonde.
Kaukonde is MP for Marondera constituency and a businessman of note. He has served as Zanu PF chairperson for a decade and is also one of the longest serving MPs in Mashonaland East Province, having been an MP since 2000.
Mutongi, a retired soldier who was based at Zimbabwe Military Academy in Gweru, told the Daily News that he had submitted his CV to the Zanu PF political commissariat department for him to be considered in the race for the Mashonaland East provincial chair.
Mutongi is one of the war veteran leaders in Mashonaland East. He claims he enjoys support from senior Zanu PF politicians and war veterans.
“I am a Zanu PF cadre who fought in the liberation struggle and a professional soldier for more than 20 years,” Mutongi said. “I have been participating in the party’s activities since independence. I am one of the few war veterans who participated in the Svosve land invasion in 2000, when the land revolution started.
“I decided to join the race after realising that Kaukonde was not respecting us as war veterans in the province, so I have decided to challenge him as he was claiming that he is not going to be challenged for the post by anyone in the province.”
Contacted for comment, Kaukonde said he was ready to face Mutongi in the ballot.
“It is democracy and everyone is free to contest for any post in the party,” Kaukopnde told the Daily News. “I am ready to contest with him and I know that the party supporters of the province are going to choose the leader they want. So I have no problems with his political ambitions.”
Currently, Zanu PF is holding its provincial elections, to choose provincial chairpersons and Women’s League chairperson and Youth League chairpersons.
The polls have been marred by allegations of vote-fraud and factionalism.
In Manicaland, John Mvundura won against Monica Mutsvangwa while Jaison Machaya prevailed over Larry Mavima in Midlands Province. Luke Mushore beat Dick Mafios in Mashonaland Central Province.
Elections for the remaining seven provinces will be held simultaneously next week.