HARARE – President Robert Mugabe, on a working visit to the Far East, is reportedly alarmed by escalating infighting and mudslinging over divisive provincial elections, officials in the 50-year-old liberation movement said yesterday.
The 89-year-old leader has been forced to call for an unprecedented emergency politburo meeting on Saturday to settle the chaos.
“There will be a politburo meeting on Saturday, 23 November, 2013 at party headquarters,” Simon Khaya-Moyo, the national chairman told the media on Monday.
“This has necessitated the postponement of the provincial elections in the remaining seven provinces to a later date.
“All teams must continue with the necessary (election) preparations including certification of registers and candidates. Once the exact date is announced, the elections will be held in one day from 7am-7pm."
“In the meantime, the ad-hoc committee appeals to all party leaders to refrain from conducting party affairs though the media. The revolutionary party has a clear constitution and explicit structures to be respected in its daily operations.”
The meeting is being convened as top Zanu PF officials have tightened security following threats spawned by the intensifying succession row, which has spilled into the State media.
Officials have reported receiving multiple death threats over disputed ongoing provincial elections, that have seen the party forced to convene an ad-hoc committee led by Joice Mujuru and key members of her faction to handle the remaining seven provincial elections after polls in Mashonaland Central, Manicaland and Midlands were sullied by accusations of ballot fraud.
One high-ranking member of the party is said to be moving around with a convoy of three cars and seven bodyguards.
The elections, due in seven provinces, have since been postponed to make way for the Zanu PF emergency meeting.
Fireworks are expected at Saturday’s emergency politburo meeting, with losing candidates in all the three provinces campaigning for nullification of the results.
Officials said the meeting will be “frank and open to the truth”.
The meeting will also tackle accusations of insubordination among senior party officials, mainly government and party spin-doctors.
Senior Zanu PF officials told the Daily News that besides the controversial elections, the party will also deal with the public outbursts over the past week between politburo members and senior government officials on the status of Mashonaland Central polls.
“We are going into the meeting with one voice, let us nullify the results in all the three provinces and start afresh nationwide on the same day,” said a senior party official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
“According to the party constitution, polls should be held in one day and not this staggering which we are seeing.
“We want people to exercise their democratic right of voting without prejudice, not what is happening at the moment,” said another senior official.
“The issue is very clear, if we are to redeem ourselves, we must be able to conduct internal polls in a transparent manner where everyone is satisfied.
“It is folly to claim democracy without practising it, we want every member of the party to feel free and vote,” the politburo member said.
While the call by the faction believed to be led by Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa for a re-run was loud and clear, members of the winning team, said to be led by Mujuru, are adamant that unless tangible evidence of vote manipulation is presented, results in the three provinces should stand.
“Why should we have a re-run without evidence of rigging which is compelling?” asked a senior party member aligned to the Mujuru faction.
“We are going to the politburo very clear, stating that the party cannot be run like a tuck-shop.
“We have rules and regulations that govern elections in Zanu PF, those people who feel cheated should learn to accept defeat. MDC takaidya wani saka chii chinoshamisira pakudyiwa,” ( we defeated the MDC so what’s the fuss about losing?) he said.
A highly-placed source told the Daily News that losing candidates had been lobbying members of the politburo to have the election result nullified.
“They are blaming Didymus Mutasa for their loss because he failed to avail the voter register beforehand for their inspection,” said another source, who preferred anonymity.
Mutasa, who is administrative secretary of Zanu PF, is believed to be a close ally of Mujuru.
Voting, which was supposed to take place in one day, is said to have run for three days.
While some failed to cast their vote, the results were announced nonetheless.
The battle of the provinces is increasingly becoming acrimonious as party heavyweights pull out all the stops to outwit each other, including seeking reprieve from the courts.
Mnangagwa’s wife Auxillia has filed a $50 million criminal defamation suit against Jason Machaya after his election agent petitioned the party to take disciplinary measures against her and four others for electoral fraud.
Khaya-Moyo on Monday urged party officials to refrain from conducting Zanu PF business through the media.
The State media yesterday also uncharacteristically slammed Zanu PF in an unrestrained front-page editorial, with its venom aimed at key members of the Mujuru faction.