HARARE - As the jostling for the right to represent Zanu PF in the forthcoming legislative elections intensifies, cracks are widening amid revelations that the old guard and the young turks are engaged in pitched battles to secure a nomination.
Zanu PF insiders told the Daily News yesterday that while there was fierce jockeying as aspiring legislators went around their respective constituencies canvassing for support ahead of primaries for legislative elections President Robert Mugabe wants in March, indications were that politburo, central committee and consultative assembly members outside Parliament would be given first priority in the selection of candidates to represent the party.
Already indications are that, Zanu PF’s primary polls are premised on two main factions — one led by Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa and the other by Vice President Joice Mujuru, both of whom have for years been involved in a vicious battle to succeed the 88-year-old Mugabe.
The Zanu PF politburo has resolved that primary elections will be held after the constitutional referendum.
Many fear the exercise may be a mere window dressing exercise as nomination tickets for certain slots may already have been handed to certain individuals.
The primaries will be a key test for Zanu PF’s internal democracy.
Party insiders said the forthcoming primaries had the potential to further drive a wedge within the faction-riddled party, with so-called young turks pushing for a clean out of a bunch of geriatrics in the name of “generational change”.
The attempt to get rid of the old guard could break many traditions in the party, including paying respect to elder leaders.
According to Zanu PF insiders, the so-called “young turks” are pushing for a clinical clean-out of party “dead-wood.”
They want “leadership renewal” as a major agenda item at the forthcoming party conference in Gweru in December, which is expected to confirm the 88-year-old first secretary as the Zanu PF presidential candidate in the forthcoming vote.
In itself, leadership renewal is a dangerous strategy; insiders say.
In order to succeed, extraordinary number of deals with factions and sub-factions have to be done to make it happen — with subsequent favours having to be returned in the form of seats.
In the end, rather than “generational change”, a political bloodbath is likely to take place at the Zanu PF primary elections, with toxic campaigning and bitter disputes.
Mugabe himself is confronted with a major challenge of managing the delicate balance of rewarding allies and identifying the best candidates for elective positions.
Already, aspiring MPs are working hard to outdo each other with impressive tales on how they intend to change people’s lives while dishing out tons of goodies on the campaign trail.
Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo said yesterday this must stop forthwith.
“We do not encourage people who have not been approved by the party to produce leaflets, calendars, T shirts bearing their names and so on. It is not correct,” he said.
“The criteria for choosing candidates will be announced after the referendum. The imposition of candidates will not be tolerated.”
Gumbo spoke as aspiring MPs such as businessperson Phillip Chiyangwa were beamed on state TV this week dishing out goodies to get people on board in Chinhoyi and promising to vanquish both his Zanu PF opponents and those from Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC.
Thousands of dollars are being used in electioneering gimmicks and the Daily News has been told that Chiyangwa is also campaigning for his sidekick, Chamu Chiwanza to run for Parliament in Mabvuku, where Zimbabwe Mining Development (ZMDC) chairperson Godwills Masimirembwa is also eying.
Masimirembwa has reportedly been laying the ground for Zanu PF in the past two years but is facing resistance from Harare provincial chairperson Amos Midzi, who is said to be pushing for Chiwanza.
Alleged Chipangano leader, Jim Kunaka is also said to be in the Chiwanza camp which is opposing Masimirembwa.
As the jostling in Mabvuku intensifies, Chiyangwa will tomorrow be in Mabvuku campaigning for Chiwanza.
Most of these politicians eat the words and promises they give out during election campaigns.
Zanu PF was looking for candidates over the age of 40 years who will be subjected to a vigorous vetting exercise.
Party insiders said so sharp are differences within Zanu PF that in some areas like Mashonaland West Province there are as many as 12 cadres vying to represent the ruling party in one seat.
However, given the divisive nature of the primary elections and mounting fears of a repeat of the so-called “bhora musango” strategy, there are suggestions that aspiring legislators be elected through consensus at district and provincial levels before their names are submitted to the national elections directorate.
The presidium, as in all elections in Zanu PF, would have the final say in the selection of party cadres to represent the party in the harmonised elections, whose actual date is yet to be announced. DAILY NEWS