Zanu(PF) hawks blocked perceived allies of former vice president Joice Mujuru from contesting recent primary polls meant to select candidates for various legislative seats that became vacant following the expulsion of 21 Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) legislators from the august House. Pro-Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa candidates have since been elected to contest in the June10 by-elections.
The decision to block the pro-Mujuru officials from the polls follows protests in Manicaland, Harare and Bulawayo over the past few weeks by party supporters who have vowed that they should not be among those vying for the National Assembly seats for their alleged hobnobbing with the ruling party’s former second secretary.
Zanu(PF) sources said the commissariat department headed by Saviour Kasukuwere has since instructed that all Mujuru supporters be prevented from contesting the elections and hardliners in affected constituencies have seized the opportunity to slam the doors on anyone suspected of wining and dining with her.
This has brewed unanticipated trouble as some heavyweights have flatly refused to be easily pushed over.
Kasukuwere, whose department has the mandate to run internal elections in the absence of an elections directorate, two weeks ago rushed to Bulawayo following reports that Mujuru faction members were being blocked from contesting for both party positions and the five National Assembly constituencies where by-elections will be held in June.
While in Bulawayo, he read the riot act against warring members, ordering a fair procedure in the selection of candidates to represent the party at various levels, including in by-elections.
Yet, since then, intense fighting has erupted leading to the Callistus Ndlovu-led provincial executive getting ousted for the second time and replaced by an interim one.
Ndlovu was first booted out at the height of the vote of no confidence tide that swept through the provinces late last year but the Politburo, which is Zanu(PF)’s most influential organ, reinstated him.
Some of the long time Mujuru allies in Bulawayo who have since been blocked from contesting include Politburo member, Sikhanyiso Ndlovu and Absolom Sikhosana, the former youth league boss.
A top Zanu(PF) member in the province said far from claims by Sikhanyiso Ndlovu that he had voluntarily opted out of the race were not true; they insisted, he was actually barred and could be recommended for expulsion.Trade unionist, George Mlala, has since replaced Callistus Ndlovu as the interim chairman.
The skirmishes in Bulawayo have since forced a delay in primary elections. While everywhere else, the party held its primaries at the weekend, Kasukuwere said Bulawayo elections have been postponed because of ‘logistical challenges.’
However, information obtained by the Financial Gazette suggests that the party actually reached that decision after realising that youth league boss, Pupurai Togarepi, who had been given the task of organising the elections in the absence of Patrick Chinamasa, was having a torrid time trying to keep order.
“The hope is that Chinamasa, who is a more authoritative figure, will restore order when he returns from abroad next week,” an official said last week.
On the day when candidates for primary polls in other provinces were announced last Friday, the Harare provincial executive held a meeting where it recommended the expulsion of 15 pro-Mujuru members and the suspension of dozen others. All had been barred from contesting.
Kasukuwere confessed that many of Mujuru’s allies had been blocked.
“Yes of course, but there is no need to waste time mentioning them. Is it necessary?” he said when asked to confirm the development.
Asked how many had been affected, Kasukuwere said: “Quite a good number. These were from all constituencies that have fallen vacant. Some cadres were seen not to be fit to represent the party because of activities incompatible with the principles of the party.”
The by-elections were necessitated by the infighting rocking the two biggest parties, Zanu(PF) and the MDC-T which have resulted in several Members of Parliament getting recalled from the legislative assembly.
Primary polls in Harare were marred by reports of violence as factional foes engaged in running battles, chiefly in Highfield West and Dzivaresekwa.
The Mujuru faction fought neck-on-neck with a rival faction led by Vice President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, who has since replaced her in both the party and government.
And with Zanu(PF) lining up more expulsions, additional by-elections will have to be held for those who hold Parliamentary seats on the revolutionary party’s tickets.
Kudakwashe Bhasikiti, Amos Midzi, David Butau, Ray Kaukonde and Tendai Savanhu are some of the notable MPs with an axe hanging over their heads.
Meanwhile, several Zanu(PF) officials have been given marching orders from the party’s headquarters as part of an on-going purge against Mujuru’s perceived allies.
No less than 10 senior party members who have been working in the commissariat department for the past five years or so have been pushed out.
The group includes former Air Force of Zimbabwe (AFZ) air vice marshal, Henry Muchena and ex-spy boss, Sidney Nyanhongo.
The group shown the exit comprises mainly former military personnel who joined the department following its humiliation in the 2008 elections with a view to re-invigorate it.
Mujuru lost her position as the country’s number two and also as the Zanu(PF) second in command after a contentious congress in December last year.
The former vice president was early this month expelled from the ruling party and joined former party spokesperson Rugare Gumbo, ex-secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa and a litany of other stalwarts who stand accused of a sinister plot to depose President Robert Mugabe.
Now it seems the purges are targeting the administrative arms of the party with anyone perceived to have any association or links with Mutasa, Mujuru, Gumbo and their acolytes in the firing line.
Kasukuwere also confirmed the dismissals but argued the people who have been sacked did not have contracts with the party.
“You cannot fire people who were never employed in the first place. These were volunteers and we decided they had done their job. We are happy with their service to the party, however, everything comes to an end, does it not?” said Kasukuwere.
Efforts to get comment from Muchena and Nyanhongo were fruitless all week.
Muchena quit his job at the AFZ in 2010 to work full-time for the ruling party.
Muchena, teamed up with feared former Central Intelligence Organisation director, internal, Nyanhongo at the party headquarters in the commissariat department.