The revolutionary party also said besides the six presidential candidates, more nominations can still come from the floor during congress.
The six candidates are party Secretary General – Dr Strike Mkandla, party Treasurer General – Mark Mbayiwa, former Matabeleland South chairperson – Matthew Sibanda, Bernard Magugu, Sithembiso Mpofu based in the United Kingdom and Sibangilizwe Nkomo, son of the party’s late founding leader Joshua Nkomo.
Nkomo has been touted as the leading contender for the party’s presidency but critics allege his nomination is surrounded by controversy.
Addressing a presser Friday on the congress preparations and processes, ZAPU Secretary General, said despite the six candidates, there could be room for more candidates to participate in the presidential election.
“There could be more candidates, as there is still nomination from the floor during congress to take care of whoever is left out for one reason or the other. Congress allows nomination from the floor, if one can garner a certain percentage from present delegates, one can then enter the ballot box as well right on the day of congress itself. The party provides for that provided one actually satisfies the requirements in the vetting form for candidates, which is 25 percent of the present people at the congress,” Dr Mkandla said.
“This is an important safeguard, in case somebody drops off because he or she has been outmanoeuvred in the provincial processes. This can happen if a sizable number of delegates ask why so and so were left out and say they want their name on the ballot box.”
ZAPU president Isaac Mabuka, also dismissed reports that the party was divided and added that congress processes were going accordingly.
“We have heard a lot that is not true such as the party splitting. We have not skipped any stage. Firstly, last year branches elected branch executive committees in their areas. Since we have 220 constituencies, geographically they become our districts, where district committees are elected and each district nominates one person who must be part of the National People’s Council,” he said.
Then provinces elect provincial executive committees and elect national executive members for the province. We have four people from each province who get into the national executive, they are already there. Provinces also nominate the presidential candidate; they don’t elect the president, that is done when we go to congress. This is the stage we are at now, all provinces have done this except for Harare and Masvingo where there are hitches.”
During congress, delegates elect the president, vice president , national chairperson , secretary general and treasurer general, Mabuka said.
“After the top five have been elected, they sit down with two elders from the national council of elders and their chairperson and start allocating positions to the provincial elected committees,” he noted.
The president noted that ZAPU like any other organisation going through elections was facing challenges but they were normal.
“We are passing through a lot of turbulence, we are on a flight, it can never really be as smooth as we expect but as far I know , we are very stable. When other political parties do their elections, there are squabbles and physical squabbles that have not happened here,” Mabuka said.
The party also dismissed connotations that ZAPU was regional.
“There’s every chance that we can have a leader from outside Matabeleland. All we need is a leader who is popular from anywhere. Once you are not popular, you cannot lead the party, you need to have popularity of some sort,” said ZAPU”s deputy chairperson of the National Council of elders, Percy Bhebhe while Dr Mkandla added “the criteria has never been that you need to have someone from one region.”
“ZAPU is interesting because it has never been tribally oriented, however, where there are a lot of people, naturally they will vote for someone that they know.”
Treasurer General, pointed out in the last national presidential election contested by ZAPU, the late leader, Dr Dumiso Dabengwa,” garnered the highest figure nationwide from Masvingo,” arguing that people voted for whoever they wanted.
The ZAPU leader also claimed from his observations, “more people in Harare who want ZAPU to succeed than Bulawayo as a town. Although people usually vote for people from their side, it’s normal in a society.”