Zapu elections suffer poor turnout

zapu_logoJOHANNESBURG - ZAPUs South African province was, at the weekend, forced to postpone branch elections in one of its districts due to low turn-out.

The revived opposition party is pressed for time to elect substantive leaders in all its branches, districts and provinces within the next two months, in preparation for a national congress in Zimbabwe, which will see the election of a substantive National Executive Committee (NEC) to take over the running of the party on a four-year term. However, the partys attempts to elect branch leaders for its biggest district – Lookout Masuku, covering the sprawling Johannesburg suburb of Yeoville and its outlying areas, hit a brick wall again on Sunday, when all of the districts eight branches failed to raise a quorum of 40 people, which is constitutionally mandated to elect a branch executive.

Sparks nearly flew when the present members deliberated with the partys electoral directorate on what had to be done to avoid the same embarrassment in future, with some members suggesting that voting should go ahead, while others argued that some branches should be broken down and merged with others to form fewer but bigger districts. After heated deliberations, some of them being held behind closed doors by the electoral directorate, the district and provincial leaderships, the party announced that it had postponed the elections by a further two weeks.

We are giving you a week to inform us that you have managed to mobilise your branch members for these elections, said a fuming Dubizizwe Joli, the partys interim provincial chairman. We want these elections to be held within the next two weeks because all along you have been telling us that you have enough members to form eight branches. If you have fewer people, then you must merge some of the branches and make sure that the elections do take place. The interim district leaders said that they had enough members for the eight branches, but attributed the low turnout to the nomadic life of Zimbabwean exiles living and working in South Africa, who are forced to hop from one place to another in search of jobs.

We do have enough members and come two weeks, we will hold the elections, make this the biggest district that it is and make sure that it controls the Zapu policy at both provincial and national level, vowed one party member. The partys spokesman, Luke Sayi, told The Zimbabwean soon after the aborted process, that voting had gone as planned in the Insukamini district, which comprises Hillbrow, Berea and Joubert Park. There were no problems there and we expect the branches to be fully operational and with new leaders immediately. Our aim is to have all branches under a substantive leadership by the middle of May, while district leaders should also have been voted in by the end of that month. The province should be having substantive leaders by June and already preparing for the national congress, said Sayi.

Since its May 16, 2009 special congress, the party, which was re-launched after pulling out of a 1987 Unity Accord with President Robert Mugabes Zanu (PF), is being run by interim leaders, with the NEC being led by former Home Affairs Minister, Dumiso Dabengwa as its interim chairman. Dabengwa, one of the original Zapu members who led the pull-out from the 21-year-old alliance with Mugabe in December 2008, is also widely tipped to become the partys President after the August 2010 congress, whose actual date and venue are yet to be confirmed.

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