Nomination exposes fissures in Zanu (PF), opposition

Disgruntled Zanu (PF) members aspiring to stand in the June 10 by elections have filed their nominations as independents as fissures within the ruling party worsen.

Harare Provincial chairman, Goodwills Masimirembwa.
Harare Provincial chairman, Goodwills Masimirembwa.

The Election Resource Centre (ERC), in a recent review of the April 16 nomination process, also said rebellious aspirants from MDC-T and the Renewal Team also decided to run as independents.

This is in defiance of the two parties’ decision not to participate in any form of elections until there is meaningful electoral reform.

Fourteen seats are up for grabs following the recent expulsion from parliament of MPs from the Renewal Team.

MDC-T successfully lobbied Jacob Mudenda, the speaker of parliament, to expel 21 Renewal MPs and senators, but there will be no by-elections in seven seats that were obtained on a proportional representation basis.

The Renewal Team, which was virtually led by Tendai Biti, was formed early last year when a substantial number of senior members broke away from Morgan Tsvangirai, accusing him of leadership failure.

According to ERC, the Zanu (PF) fissures were also demonstrated by party candidates double filing their papers at the nomination courts.

“Internal party fissures within Zanu (PF) were exposed as witnessed by double aspiring candidates in Harare East.

“There were also reports of Zanu (PF) aligned independent candidates who successfully filed their papers due to the fact that they were aggrieved by the dramatic expulsions from the party and the subsequent manipulation of primary elections leading to the nomination day,” said ERC.

The election watchdog added that incognito party candidates from the Renewal Team and MDC-T emerged, in some cases adopting names and symbols that closely resembled those of the two parties.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), however, rejected the papers from the aspiring candidates, according to ERC, and no candidates attempted to file papers under the two parties.

One of the expelled Renewal Team MPs who decided to defy his party is Albert Mhlanga.

According to ERC “his decision to contest might be indicative of his belief that he still enjoys popular support in the area regardless of party affinities.”

It added: “If he succeeds, it will indeed vindicate the position that probably the MDC-T decision wasn’t popular with the masses.

It will also prove the notion that at times the electorate vote for personalities and their merit as opposed to their political parties.”

ERC said Zanu (PF) could have unduly influenced the nomination process. “There was suspicious close interaction between the nomination court officials and the Zanu (PF) top hierarchy, especially their Harare Provincial chairman, Goodwills Masimirembwa,” said ERC.

The watchdog said the nomination officer in Harare riled prospective candidates by continuously talking on her phone, raising the suspicion that she was receiving orders from unknown people.

ZEC has for a long time been accused of working under the guidance of Nikuv, an agency accused of helping Zanu (PF) rig elections, the ruling party and intelligence operatives.

While the nomination fee was pegged at $50, ERC said “a notable number of prospective candidates struggled to raise the needed money.”

The election watchdog described the nomination process in Harare as slow, possibly owing to poor awareness campaigns by ZEC.

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