The Sunday Mail
Zanu-PF will hold primary elections next Sunday with the ruling party employing a new strategy that will see candidates holding joint campaign rallies.
More than 1 302 candidates are set to battle it out for National Assembly seats, while more than 6 000 will seek the right to represent Zanu-PF in local authorities.
The party brought forward the date for the primaries to April 29 from May 5.
Campaigning for the primaries starts today as the ruling party goes a gear up ahead of a general election due any time from July 21 to August 21, 2018.
Some notable entrants for National Assembly primaries are Chitungwiza Central Hospital chief executive Dr Obadiah Moyo; businessman James Makamba (Mt Darwin South); property tycoon Dr Killer Zivhu (Chivi South); former Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries president Calisto Jokonya (Chivi South); former Zinara boss Frank Chitukutuku (Gormonzi South); and ZBC journalists Tendai Munengwa and Andrew Neshamba (both Mt Darwin South) and Richard Siyakurima (Uzumba).
Also in the race is The Sunday Mail’s Features and Opinions Editor Garakai Mazara (Guruve South).
War veterans Cdes Victor Matemadanda and Douglas Mahiya (Gokwe Central and Harare South respectively) are also in the primaries.
Others have a clear path to the ticket: Cdes Sithembiso Nyoni (Nkayi South), Joseph Chinotimba (Buhera South), Kenneth Musanhi (Bindura North), Edmore Mhere (Masvingo Central), Winston Chitando (Gutu Central), and William Mutomba (Buhera North) are unopposed.
Zanu-PF Secretary for Administration Dr Obert Mpofu remained true to his promise to surrender representation of Umguza in the National Assembly, and is eyeing the Senatorial Umguza-Bubi seat.
In all, 208 candidates have thrown their hats in the ring for Senate seats, and 226 for the women’s quota.
Addressing journalists at the party’s headquarters in Harare yesterday, Zanu-PF National Political Commissar Cde Englebert Rugeje said the primaries were a dress rehearsal for the harmonised elections.
“As a matter of fact primaries are going to be held on the 29th of April which is next week Sunday that’s the official date of primaries.
“So for those who are going to campaign officially we want our members to start campaign tomorrow.
“It is going to be a dry run for the harmonised elections. We are going to use the actual polling centres, we might not have the polling booth, but we will try and rehearse ourselves just as if we were actually going to vote for the national elections.”
Cde Rugeje said 600 officials had been deployed to verify the integrity of the party’s Electoral College.
“We currently have a verification exercise that is underway because we want to prevent cheating. There has been a lot of cheating in the past because sitting MPs, sitting senators, sitting councilors had a tendency of creating their own structures which they will then present during the voting process.
“It’s not going to be the case around this time. I am going to establish the register myself as Commissar and I have got a team of 600 people who are out there who are going cell by cell, registering people and making sure that the cell registers are up to date and accurate.”
He said said candidates who disregarded joint campaigning would be disqualified.
“We have directed that there is nobody who is going to campaign on their own,” said Cde Rugeje. “There shall be a programme that will be laid for all the participating candidates.
“So if you are in, for example, Bikita East you cannot address the rally on your own. There will be a co-ordinator in the constituency who will arrange a system of governance where all the aspiring candidates will come together and be allocated time to talk about themselves, to campaign.
“We are deliberately doing so in order to avoid the potential to create disunity amongst our own members. There is a tendency when people are campaigning to fight each other.
“Some are not good at mobilising so they will resort to dirty tactics. We want to avoid that as a party that’s why we insist on campaigning together for all the prospective candidates. You get disqualified if you do not co-ordinate.”
Cde Rugeje said there had been an overwhelming response from prospective candidates, with Mr Darwin set to see 20 candidates contesting for the National Assembly ticket.
He said prospective candidates must have served Zanu-PF for five years; though this was not required of war veterans, civil servants, diplomats and other professionals.
He said districts and provinces could not disqualify candidates, and the National Elections Directorate had deliberated for days on all CVs before tabling them to the Politburo for approval.
“Over a period of about five days, we were locked away looking at each and every candidate. We managed to sift through them all and we categorised them into those that qualified and those that did not qualify. For those that did not qualify, we were able to state the reasons why.”