HARARE – The Zanu PF faction rallying behind Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s mooted presidential aspirations has vowed to crush moves by the party enemies of the Midlands godfather to impose their candidate to lead the key, but volatile province of Masvingo.
This comes after the Zanu PF politburo surprisingly ordered the province on Wednesday to re-run its elections to find a substantive chairperson for the region, which were “won” by a Team Lacoste-linked candidate last month.
At the same time, political analysts warned in interviews with the Daily News yesterday that the ruling party’s seeming failure to respect its internal democratic processes was a bad omen for the eagerly-anticipated 2018 national polls.
As had been accurately predicted by the Daily News earlier in the week, well-placed sources said yesterday that the Zanu PF politburo had engaged in heated discussions over the Masvingo provincial chairman’s elections which were “won” by Ezra Chadzamira — who obliterated the Generation 40-linked Mutero Masanganise before inclement weather prevented polling in 165 districts last month.
Speaking after the politburo meeting, secretary for administration Ignatius Chombo announced that the party had decided to run fresh elections in the province “at a date that is yet to be discussed”.
The G40 group, which is rabidly opposed to Mnangagwa succeeding Mugabe, had been working furiously ahead of the meeting to have the result nullified, while Team Lacoste favoured a decision that would allow cast votes to stand, and for outstanding districts to complete their voting.
A miffed legislator and senior party official who is linked to Mnangagwa’s camp told the Daily News yesterday that Team Lacoste would “throw the kitchen sink at G40” in the planned re-run.
“Whatever the G40 does will not change anything. Initially, they didn’t want elections because they knew they were going to lose, but when they felt they had oiled their rigging machine they accepted elections but still lost.
“The people of Masvingo know what they want and they spoke loud and clear in the last election. There is no doubt that they will do it again.
“The best that they (the G40) can do is to block the elections. But then again, we have our counter-strategy. They cannot do anything here. Ngwena ndiye baba kuno (Mnangagwa is the boss of Masvingo),” the bigwig said.
“Although we will be holding a strategy meeting next week, let me promise you that come what may, the people of Masvingo will not fold their hands and watch G40 and its backers impose people on the province.
“Remember our song at the end of last year’s Zanu PF conference in Masvingo? Indeed kumagumo kunenyaya (the ending will be unexpected). That song was meant to tell president Mugabe that the people of Masvingo are fed up with the ongoing machinations in the party,” the official added.
However — and relieved by the politburo’s decision to annul last month’s poll results and — a G40-linked provincial member told the Daily News that they would not be “taking any chances” in the re-run.
“They say once beaten twice shy. There is no way we are going to relax like we did last time. We underestimated the influence that Lacoste (Mnangagwa) has in the province and this won’t happen again,” he said.
But another Team Lacoste official said: “They (the G40) have since hatched a plan to make sure that the (Masvingo) commissariat department which is led by Jeppy Jaboon goes on the ground and weed out all of ED’s (Mnangagwa’s) sympathisers in the structures before the fresh polls.
“Make no mistake, there is going to be more chaos in the province in the coming weeks”.
On his part, Masanganise welcomed the politburo’s directive, saying he was ready to have a second bite at the cherry.
“I want to put on record first that I am not a factional candidate but a Zanu PF one. That said, I want to welcome the decision to have the elections re-run because the first one cannot be called an election as it denied voters the chance to exercise their rights.
“I am certain that this time around, I will easily romp to victory because I have the support,” Masanganise told the Daily News.
Although Chadzamira trounced Masanganise in the provincial poll last month, the election was said to be inconclusive due to massive rains which prevented voting in some districts.
However, nearly 70 percent of the ballot had been cast by the time the rains prevented voting in 165 districts, including in both Chadzamira’s and Masangise’s home villages.
In the released results, Chadzamira crushed Masanganise polling 12 393 votes against his opponent’s 4 888.
But as if to complicate matters further, Masanganise — a war veteran and retired army colonel — is also said be related to Mugabe.
Chadzamira was suspended last year on charges of indiscipline and inciting insolence, as well as engaging in violence.
He was subsequently replaced in an acting capacity by Amasi Nenjana, who was said to have reluctantly pulled out of last month’s race to pave the way for Masanganise.
Political analysts told the Daily News that the politburo’s Masvingo decision was part of “continuing efforts” to frustrate Mnangagwa.
“There is no link whatsoever between the rains and the decision to re-run the entire election. What is obvious is that the G40 were beaten hands down by the Lacoste faction,” said political analyst Gladys Hlatywayo.
“The most reasonable thing to do would have been to allow the districts that had not voted to do so. But we know in whose interest these decisions are being made. It is in the interest of the ‘Emperor’ and his praise-singers.
“Zanu PF bigwigs, especially those in the Lacoste faction, are now tasting their own medicine. While the country’s progressive movement has raised these shenanigans time and again at the national level, such calls have fallen on deaf ears.
“Now the shenanigans are happening closer to home. Yet, fair electoral politics is important in both intra-party and inter-party politics,” she added.
Another political analyst, Dewa Mavhinga, said the manner in which Zanu PF had managed the Masvingo affair was indicative of its attitude towards elections generally.
“We have been shown a glimpse of the ruling party’s attitude to elections and democratic processes generally . . . that they do not matter,” Mavhinga told the Daily News.
“A subversion of electoral processes does not only occur during national elections, it is widespread, including within Zanu PF’s internal processes,” he added.
Analysts have previously said Mugabe’s failure to resolve Zanu PF’s succession riddle is fuelling the infighting which is devouring the former liberation movement.
The 93-year-old has studiously refused to name a successor, insisting that the party’s congress has that mandate: to choose a person of their own choice.
The ruling party’s two major factions have escalated their fights ever since Mugabe gave his traditional birthday interview to the ZBC, on the eve of his 93rd birthday last month, in which he rubbished all his lieutenants’ leadership credentials and their chances of succeeding him.