Zanu heavies up in arms over election rigging

The recent Zanu (PF) provincial elections have heightened factionalism within the party, amid revelations that losing candidates from the Emmerson Mnangagwa camp have petitioned the party elections directorate to reverse disputed poll outcomes.

Emmerson Mnangagwa
Emmerson Mnangagwa

They are citing vote rigging through ballot staffing and disenfranchisement of voting members, among other irregularities. The development has cast a shadow over the party’s 14th national conference scheduled for December 12-15 in Chinhoyi.

Leaders of the Mnangagwa faction are alleged to have directed their losing candidates to file the petitions and prepare for combat against the party’s Soviet-style politburo if it fails to rescind the election results.

Philemon Mutongi, who lost the race for the Mashonaland East provincial chairmanship to Ray Kaukonde, of the Mujuru camp, told The Zimbabwean that he received instructions from the top to challenge the result by way of a petition.

“The ballot box was clearly stuffed, as there was no way the number of voters would have reached over 24,000 as indicated by the so-called total vote for Mashonaland East Province,” Mutongi said.

According to results announced by National Chairperson Simon Khaya Moyo, Kaukonde garnered 24,264 votes against Mutongi’s 2,616. Mutongi disputed this “because each ward with 120 potential voters had an average 80 people who actually managed to cast their ballot, making it impossible for the total cast vote to be anywhere near that figure”.

Results from other provinces had an average of slightly more than half the Mashonaland East tally. Mutongi revealed that he was among dozens of concerned candidates petitioning the party’s electoral college.

The party’s electoral processes stipulating that the ballots be counted at polling centres had been ignored, he added. Ballots were transported to provincial headquarters for counting. He alleged this could have been when the ballot stuffing took place.

Kaukonde said if the elections were rigged in his favour, it had nothing to do with him.

“I am just a poor party cadre who has no powers to talk to the media. In Zanu (PF) we follow protocol and would advise you to approach our spokesperson, Rugare Gumbo and national commissar, Webster Shamu for comment,” he said in a telephone interview.

Efforts to contact both Gumbo and Shamu were fruitless as Gumbo was reported out of the country while Shamu’s number was not reachable.

Mujuru won 9

The tense jockeying for provincial positions by the two factions is because the provinces are responsible for electing President Robert Mugabe’s successor and other top party leaders. The Mujuru faction won nine of the 10 contested provinces. Mnangagwa’s candidate grabbed Matabeleland North.

Philip Chiyangwa, who lost to Themba Mliswa in MashWest, said if the elections were rigged against him, it was a Zanu (PF) in-house process which should not be contested.

“Politics is not a game for gentlemen in white suits. Politics is played by politicians in party regalia made of sacks. If my rival stole the election while I was asleep that is politics and I accept the outcome,” Chiyangwa said.

Observers have predicted nights of the long knives at the Zanu (PF) conference if the summit goes ahead as planned without addressing raised grievances.

Political analyst, Shakespear Hamauswa noted that the irregularities drew parallels between Zanu (PF) in-house elections and the national harmonised polls. “Cited irregularities and the rigging pattern have similarities with issues raised by MDC at the July 31 harmonised election. This could confirm that Zanu (PF) rigged the disputed harmonised polls,” he said.

Rigging confirmed

MDC-T spokesperson, Douglas Mwonzora, said complaints raised by his party about the way the July 31 polls ‘were stolen by Zanu (PF)’ were similar to those launched by the losing provincial candidates.

“This shows that the Zanu (PF) rigging machinery was working the way it did against rival parties at national harmonised elections,” Mwonzora said, adding that Zanu (PF) losing candidates could not claim that the party provincial elections were rigged while the harmonised July 31 polls were free and fair.

Simon Khaya Moyo, the Zanu (PF) National Chairman, said he was yet to receive the complaints from disgruntled candidates.

In Masvingo, Ailess Baloyi, the losing candidate in last week’s Zanu (PF) Masvingo provincial chairmanship said he would not accept the outcome of the results arguing that the whole process was flawed.

He said the election was manipulated by some individuals and rigged even before the ballots were cast. Baloyi, the former Chiredzi South legislator, lost to retired Brigadier-General, Callisto Gwanetsa, in polls marred by violence.

Ironically Baloyi and Gwanetsa locked horns in the primaries leading to the July 31 national poll, with the latter winning. “I am not accepting these results because they are not a true reflection of what the people want,” said Baloyi. “I have listed all my grievances and it is clear that these elections were manipulated and was rigged before even a single vote was cast,” he said.

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