Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa has been booted out of the Central Committee after failing to garner enough votes to land a berth in elections held in Manicaland on Monday.
The defeat could spell political disaster for Mutasa, who was reportedly gunning for the Zanu PF national chairmanship post at the party’s elective congress next week.
Mutasa doubles as Presidential Affairs minister in President Robert Mugabe’s Office and party secretary for administration.
Mutasa garnered a paltry 85 votes against other contestants who qualified in Makoni district, among them Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa (177), Agriculture minister Joseph Made (163), Makoni South legislator Mandi Chimene (141) and Florence Majachani (169).
Four seats were being contested for in the Central Committee in Makoni and Mutasa districts, considered the Manicaland political godfather’s strongholds.
While Mutasa fell by the wayside, his nemesis and ex-Zanu PF Manicaland provincial chairman Mike Madiro bounced back into the ruling party, winning a Central Committee seat, marking a dramatic comeback after a few years in the political wilderness.
In Mashonaland West, the new Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association leader, Norton MP Chris Mutsvangwa, was also thumped in Central Committee elections for Norton by Bybit Tsomondo.
In Mhondoro, the ever-fading former Information deputy minister Bright Matonga was beaten by a little-known contestant, one Chengeta.
Mutasa is being linked to under-fire Vice-President Joice Mujuru and a section of Zanu PF supporters have been out to humble everyone allegedly linked to her camp.
In an interview with NewsDay yesterday, Mutasa accepted the results. He, however, alleged that deputy secretary for Youth Affairs Kudzi Chipanga and Chimene had decampaigned him resulting in his loss.
“Yes, it’s true. The other candidates ganged up against me,” he said. “It was Mandi Chimene and Kudzi Chipanga who had gone out to people in their constituencies decampaigning me. However, I accept the results and tomorrow (today) I will be at the PCC (provincial co-ordinating committee) in Mutare.”
Manicaland acting provincial chairman Samuel Undenge had told NewsDay earlier that he would only release results at the PCC meeting today.
Sources said Mutasa was not present when the elections were held.
It is understood that some Zanu PF supporters were planning to humiliate Mutasa in the same manner that Labour minister Nicholas Goche was disgraced in Bindura on Sunday if he had attended the elections.
The Zanu PF officials told NewsDay last night that the news of Mutasa’s defeat was greeted with wild celebrations with some ruling party supporters toyi-toying in the streets while shouting that “Makoni district has been liberated”.
Madiro, who was suspended from the ruling party allegedly at the instigation of Mutasa, bounced back into the party after winning the Central Committee seat in Zimunya-Marange.
Some party officials, however, said it was too early to comment on the matter. Madiro has led the province twice and has been dismissed as many times before the end of his tenure. He expressed gratitude to the people and the ruling party for giving him another chance.
“I have no words to explain my appreciation to the people. I am really appreciative to the people who thought I should serve them again. You know I am a people’s man,” Madiro said.
Madiro was part of the provincial chairpersons who were dismissed after they were linked to the infamous Tsholotsho Declaration that reportedly plotted to oust Mugabe.
He bounced back a few years later before fighting with Mutasa in a matter where he was accused of stealing Mugabe’s birthday cattle along with his deputy Dorothy Mabika. The case was dismissed by the courts.
Others who reportedly made it into the Central Committee for the Zimunya-Marange constituency were former Mutare South legislator Fred Kanzama along with Mutare West MP and Manicaland Provincial Affairs minister Christopher Mushohwe.
In Mutare district, businessman Esau Mupfumi and Ellen Gwaradzimba romped to victory, beating Jesca Chidza and Ronald Chayambuka.
The elections were overseen by the provincial secretary for legal affairs Misheck Mugadza. Provincial secretary for administration Kenneth Saruchera commended supporters for voting peacefully unlike in previous sessions where violence carried the day.
Meanwhile, Matabeleland South former governor Angeline Masuku lost her seat in the party’s Central Committee after she failed to garner enough votes.
Masuku became the first casualty there after she was thumped by Vice-Presidential aspirant Phelekezela Mphoko and Charles Chiponda, the provincial secretary for indigenisation.
Chiponda cruised to victory in the first round of voting, garnering 31 votes. Masuku only managed four votes and withdrew from the second round of voting, which saw Mphoko picking up an assailable 40 votes.
In the same area, Maggie Mukasi, Nacisio Makhulumo, who led an abortive vote of no confidence motion on the Callistus Ndlovu-led executive, Constance Ndlovu and George Tshabangu fell by the wayside.
The province has been divided into five areas, with two winners from each area making it into the powerful Zanu PF organ.
In Area Four, ex-Zanu PF Bulawayo provincial chairperson Killian Sibanda, was reportedly elected unopposed with Zanu PF Youth League boss Absolom Sikhosana, Alderman David Ndlovu, Khumbulani Mlilo and Langelihle Mathe left to fight it out for the remaining seat.