HARARE – Serious factional conflicts have erupted within President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party ahead of tomorrow’s important provincial executive votes, increasing the risk of a repeat of the disputed polls held in three provinces that have split the party and stirred controversy.
The ruling Zanu PF, which commands a huge majority in the 350-strong house of Parliament, has been thrown into fresh turmoil over the apparent refusal to avail the voters’ roll ahead of the crunch vote and allegations that some party’s officials were promising jobs in exchange for votes in the party’s decisive regional internal elections.
Didymus Mutasa, party secretary for administration, has said preparations for the provincial elections were on course.
The crucial poll is due tomorrow in seven provinces.
“Everything has been done,” Mutasa told the Daily News yesterday.
“All the logistics are in place.”
There has been opprobrium over the outcome of the first three disputed polls in Mashonaland Central, Midlands and Manicaland, with politburo member Jonathan Moyo warning officials against “being too ambitious using the provincial results as a yardstick to fanciful thinking.”
Candidates were said to be promising the electorate pie in the sky in return for votes. Campaign was said to be in full swing, amid allegations that there was abuse of power of incumbency by those clinging onto office.
Mutasa said he was certain no repeat vote will be necessary despite the embarrassment caused by the last three disputed votes, whose results, favouring members of the Joice Mujuru faction, were only upheld after the intervention of Mugabe, a cunning political veteran.
Mutasa told the Daily News that so far the party had not met any challenges ahead of the vote, whose elected provincial chairmen will hold sway over who succeeds Mugabe when the party goes for a congress in 2014 to elect fresh leadership.
“If there are any challenges, we do not know what they will be,” Mutasa said.
The fights have been described by critics as “vulgar”, given that 89-year-old Mugabe has just been re-elected by a 61 percent majority.
“It is important to outline and underscore the fact that President Mugabe has just been elected for a five-year term as the leader of Zanu PF to run the government and that, therefore, there is no vacancy in the leadership of the party, government and country,” Moyo said in a statement issued last weekend.
“It is also important to note that the Zanu PF provincial elections are not succession elections and that anyone who thinks they are will only have themselves to blame.”
Mugabe had to call an extra-ordinary politburo meeting last Saturday to try and extinguish the fires stoked by the race to succeed him. The party has admitted the last three elections were poorly organised, leading to their abandonment as the liberation party went back to the drawing board.
The party is heading to an elective congress next year, where presidium posts are up for grabs, with speculation high that whoever controls the majority of the provincial chairpersons stands a big chance of succeeding the former school teacher once he retires or is incapacitated.
During last Saturday’s extraordinary politburo meeting, Mujuru, widely regarded as a moderate, emerged the biggest winner, according to political analysts, after the party’s highest decision making body outside congress endorsed polls in Mashonaland Central, Midlands and Manicaland that saw her cronies romp to victory.
The election had been sullied by allegations of vote rigging.
The ruling party says it has ironed out sticking points and would ensure smooth elections.