This comes as the contestant who has called it quits, Mutero Masanganise — who is linked to the embattled Generation 40 (G40) faction, which in turn is opposed to Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa succeeding President Robert Mugabe — is threatening to take legal action against the brawling ruling party, to stop it from associating his name with today’s plebiscite.
But a resolute acting Zanu PF chairperson for Masvingo, who is also a politburo member — Joram Gumbo — told the Daily News yesterday that he had received the green light from the party’s bigwigs to go ahead with today’s election, “with or without Masanganise”.
This comes after Masanganise pulled out of the election on Thursday, claiming that it had not been cleared by President Robert Mugabe and the party’s all-powerful politburo — while also citing a number of alleged “irregularities” which he claimed were yet to be attended to by the warring former liberation movement.
“I am not aware of the complaints. Those who are against the elections fear defeat. The elections are going ahead with or without Masanganise.
“(Ignatius) Chombo (Zanu PF’s secretary for administration) called me and said the elections must go ahead, and there is nothing which can stop the election.
“Izvi zviri kutaura vamwe zvavekutonyadzisa (what the likes of Masanganise are saying is increasingly becoming embarrassing),” Gumbo told the Daily News yesterday.
Masanganise has cited a number of reasons for his withdrawal from today’s elections, chief among them the alleged need for Gumbo to be removed as the regional presiding officer.
It also emerged yesterday that Masanganise has written to Chombo, threatening legal action against the party if the brawling former liberation movement goes ahead with today’s election.
“I make reference to the report against Masvingo provincial chairmanship elections held at beginning of April 2017.
“In that report, we detailed a number of irregularities that occurred before and during those elections. We also highlighted the biased conduct and partisanship of then acting chairman and elections’ retaining officer, … Gumbo.
“Since then, the politburo set aside the elections and the president and first secretary of Zanu PF stated that an acting chairman, or an interim provincial executive would be appointed to lead Masvingo province and attend to the irregularities before proper and orderly elections are held. This appointment was to be done by the presidency.
“Instead, (Shuvai) Mahofa and (Josaya) Hungwe (both Zanu PF politburo members) claim they entered into a private arrangement with you … Chombo, to reappoint … Gumbo and give him a new mandate as acting chairman of Masvingo province in order to ensure that … (Ezra) Chadzamira be elected chairman of Masvingo province.
“We made serious complains against Gumbo that he is compromised and conflicted to lead this process. He therefore cannot be allowed to gate-crash and cause more confusion to an already volatile political environment in Masvingo province.
“Accordingly, and in light of the above, I wish to put it on record that I have not offered myself as candidate for these purported new elections pencilled for the 6th May 2017.
“The use of my name as a candidate is therefore mischievous, illegal and scandalous. It is important to note that, I was never a part to the manipulated process and refuse to have any association with these so-called new elections.
“I would like to accordingly inform your esteemed office and also say that unless my name is publicly disassociated with these purported elections by 4 May 2017, I shall have no choice but to seek legal remedy and interdict you and … Gumbo from using or associating my name with these purported elections.
“Associating me (with the poll) against my will infringes on my rights in terms of the party’s constitution, and in terms of our country’s national constitution,” Masanganise said in his written warning to Chombo.
Emotions have been running high in the fractious province ever since Mugabe and the politburo nullified the results from the initial regional poll, which was won by Masanganise’s rival — Chadzamira — amid claims of irregularities, including people not voting in some districts.
Chadzamira, who is the former regional chairman and an alleged Mnangagwa backer, crushed Masanganise then — polling 12 393 votes against his opponent’s 4 888, amid the allegations of rigging and failure by people in Mwenezi and some parts of Chiredzi to vote.
The politburo later nullified the result and ordered a re-run, to allow districts that had not voted a chance to cast their votes.
Chadzamira is once again said to be a favourite to win today’s election, a move which insiders said would put party bigwigs in a bind as he has an uneasy relationship with ‘Shake-Shake House’ (Zanu PF headquarters), after he was suspended last year on untested charges of indiscipline, inciting insolence and engaging in violence within the warring ruling party.
Earlier this week, the Daily News reported accurately that beleaguered G40 bigwigs had enlisted the services of a shadowy group known as “Province 2017”, as they desperately sought to have today’s crucial plebiscite cancelled.
The G40 has also made stunning claims that military and intelligence personnel have allegedly been campaigning for Chadzamira, amid growing tension in the volatile province.
Masanganise also repeated these claims in his letter of complaint to Chombo.
The G40 has for some time now been described as being “at sixes and sevens”, following the pressure that has been brought to bear on its leading national figures, as well as the suspension of its alleged provincial kingpins who were ousted from the regional executive last month.
Sources have also previously told the Daily News that Zanu PF’s ever-fluid factional and succession politics were changing gear again, as there was now an apparent realignment of alliances within the warring former liberation movement — as Mnangagwa’s allies cranked up their assault on the G40.