Zanu (PF) faces protest vote in by-election

Zanu (PF) faces a protest vote in the Mbizo June 10 by-elections as recent developments have left a large number of its supporters disgruntled, an investigation by The Zimbabwean has revealed.

The developments include the recent controversial suspension of 11 district chairpersons in the constituency by the party’s provincial leadership led by chairman Kizitho Chivamba. Those suspended for five years include Honest Deura, the provincial secretary for indigenisation who hailed from Mbizo. They were all accused of fanning factionalism, a charge that has been the basis for countrywide expulsion and suspensions of the party’s members understood to be allies of deposed Vice President Joice Mujuru.

Investigations show that the majority of party supporters in the constituency are disgruntled over the selection of Vongaishe Mpereri as the party’s candidate. He is a young brother of Cornelias Mpereri, the Midlands provincial secretary for information and a close ally of VP Emmerson Mnangagwa. Many say he was imposed during the primary elections last month, when he controversially beat Knowlet Hove, the provincial chairperson of war veterans in the Midlands. The former freedom fighter had overwhelming support.

In separate interviews, top Zanu (PF) officials in the constituency confided to this newspaper that they were secretly canvassing for protest votes in favour of independent candidate Onismo Tafirei Zhavairo – a former member of their party.

“We cannot be made to back someone who does not even have respect among the party structures. The general feeling is that we should stage another Bhora Musango,” said a top official who is also a war veteran.

Another party supporter said Mpereri, who is a Kwekwe city councillor, was still too junior to become an MP in the Zanu (PF) system but had been made to “shoot to the top by the bosses” – hence the feeling for a protest vote.

“In terms of our system Mpereri cannot be an MP. Look at the trends, how many sitting councilllors have been seconded to such positions? The provincial leaders erred and many feel we should throw away the votes,” said another top supporter.

Others said scores of supporters would stage protest votes in solidarity with their district chairpersons who were unceremoniously suspended after reportedly protesting the ascendancy of Mpereri.

However, during a campaign rally held in Mbizo at the weekend, VP Mnangagwa assured supporters that Mpereri would romp to victory. He said it was “time to cleanse Mbizo from the sins of MDC-T leaders in the constituency who were supping with the devil.” MDC-T, which controlled the constituency since 2008, has boycotted the elections arguing the playing field is uneven because electoral reforms are yet to be put in place.

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