Fresh Zanu PF Masvingo provincial elections present a headache for the fractitous party rooting for former acting chairman Ezra Chadzamira to take over the party leadership ahead of President Robert Mugabe’s uncle – Mutero Masanganise.
BY Xolisani Ncube/Everson Mushava
Chadzamira was leading in the provincial elections to choose the party’s chairman after he polled 12 393 votes against Masanganise’s 4 888 with some districts yet to vote.
The politburo, however, nullified the results and ordered fresh polls to be supervised by a person to be appointed by Mugabe.
A source said Transport minister Joram Gumbo would remain as interim provincial chairman until the next elections.
Gumbo confirmed he was still interim Masvingo chair until the elections are held.
Zanu PF sources who attended Wednesday’s politburo meeting said political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere and Gumbo’s reports on the Masvingo elections were thoroughly debated.
It is understood that after Gumbo’s report on the elections held last month, provincial heavyweights led by Psychomotor minister Josaya Hungwe pushed for Chadzamira to be confirmed as substantive chairperson.
NewsDay heard Hungwe reportedly accused Kasukuwere and other party members from other provinces, deployed to assist Gumbo in running the elections, of preventing some party members from voting.
But Hungwe last night dismissed the allegations and referred all queries to Kasukuwere, Gumbo and secretary for administration Ignatius Chombo.
“After Cde Gumbo had presented his report to the politburo, Cde Hungwe opened the floor, accusing Cde Kasukuwere, his brother Dickson Mafios and Harare provincial commissar Shadreck Mashayamombe of preventing party members in Mwenezi and some parts of Chivi from voting in a bid to cause the confusion,” a senior party member said.
Party officials said Gumbo, Kasukuwere and youth league secretary Kudzanai Chipanga’s reports dominated the proceedings.
Gumbo reportedly stated in his report that incessant rains affected voting in some parts of the province as some access roads became impassable. Some areas in Mwenezi, Chiredzi, Chivi, Zaka and Gutu could not vote due to the rains.
Gumbo reported that Chadzamira was leading with almost half of the wards still to vote.
Kasukuwere, according to sources, took Hungwe to task over his claims, accusing the former Masvingo provincial governor of causing chaos during the elections while he also tabled a report which named some army officials of interfering in the polls.
“Kasukuwere went to town about Hungwe, lashing at him from left to right and Cde (Shuvai) Mahofa, who normally supports Cde Hungwe, joined in and told the President that the political commissar was right on some of the things he had said,” the source said.
“She said in her harsh voice, ‘President, inhema, vanhu vasina kuvoter vakawanda’, (President, it is a lie, many people did not vote),” the source said.
The source said Gumbo, in his report, stated that some party members were accused of interfering with the election process while he had proposed that the result stand pending the finalisation of the other areas that did not vote.
Another politburo member said the majority of the members wanted Chadzamira confirmed as chairman.
“Although the majority wanted Chadzamira confirmed as chairman, it was discovered that some 265 districts had cast their ballots while 145 failed due to floods in some areas. Hence, the President asked if there was need to reschedule the vote,” the source said.
“The arguments really were about nullifying the elections or restarting them, otherwise no one was chastised by anyone.”
First Lady Grace Mugabe, who is secretary for women affairs, according to sources, reportedly urged the party to organise the elections properly to enable all members to vote.
NewsDay also heard that criticism came from Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo, who indicated Gumbo should not have announced the inconclusive results.
But State Security minister Kembo Mohadi reportedly interjected, saying the practice was that results were announced at the centre of the vote.
“Criticism came from Moyo who questioned why Gumbo had announced the result, a move he thought if the results were not nullified they could influence other districts that had not cast their ballots. Mohadi, however, shot him down,” the sources said.
A politburo member added: “The First Lady thanked Gumbo for a job well done, but added there was need to restart the vote all over. The First Lady indicated the elections were flawed due to rains. She said let’s get everyone to vote. The elections were poorly organised due to logistical problems. The whole thing was not planned. Gumbo was the returning officer. And nothing else happened. No negativity except our planning.”
A report on the elections allegedly presented by the commissariat before the politburo claimed there was a heavy presence of military personnel in Masvingo propping up Chadzamira.
Kasukuwere refused to comment on the issue, referring all questions to Chombo, who was reported to be out of the country and did not respond to questions sent on his mobile phone