BOND paper and writing pads will be used in choosing Zanu PF candidates in today’s primary elections in Hwange district, as ballot papers were reportedly stuck in Harare at the party’s national headquarters. The application forms were also not received on time, as some aspiring candidates were still to receive them.
REPORT BY STAFF REPORTERS
A similar situation was also reported in Lupane and Binga districts where senior party officials were at pains trying to explain how the polls would be conducted without proper ballot papers, raising rigging fears among the candidates.
In Hwange, some makeshift ballot boxes were quickly made from old cardboard boxes sourced from surrounding retail outlets while some prospective candidates for various positions in the party could be seen rushing to buy writing pads and bond paper that will be used as ballot papers.
Earlier in the day, a meeting was called by some members of the army and central intelligence officers, where it was announced that due to the non-availability of ballot papers, all candidates present were to contribute $10 each towards the procurement of bond paper.
This was fiercely resisted by deputy provincial chairmanReeds Dube who is eyeing the Hwange Central constituency when he pointed out that this was not feasible, as most candidates from constituencies such as Hwange East and West werenot available. They were busy campaigning and there was no guarantee that they were going to pay the amount.
“It was later resolved that writing pads or bond paper will be used as ballot papers and voters will write the names of their preferred candidates,” an insider said.
However, those not able to write will be assisted by members of the police force who would be deployed at the polling stations.
“One cannot rule out rigging as there is a lot of confusion surrounding this issue,” one of the candidates, who declined to be named, said.
Some candidates could be seen later in the day trying to complete the application forms which were supposed to be submitted before close of business yesterday.
It could not be ascertained if all the candidates had managed to submit the completed forms in time for them to be allowed to contest.
A meeting, where all prospective candidates were supposed to be addressed by local traditional chiefs at Lwendulu Hall, was cancelled at the last minute due to the ensuing confusion concerning the issue of ballot boxes and voting procedures.
Zanu PF holds its primary elections today with some senior party members facing challenge from new faces within the party structures. Members of the youth department have also forwarded applications for council seats.
Initially, the party had set the date for the primary polls for tomorrow, but moved the date back by one day to allow candidates to register their nomination with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission tomorrow.
The primary election will see some party officials, who have lost in previous elections, coming back into the fray to try another chance at winning the hearts of the people.
Zanu PF has not won in Bulawayo and has performed badly in Matabeleland in past elections since the formation of the MDC in 1999.
Politburo member Sikhanyiso Ndlovu faces challenge from Joseph Tshuma in the Pelandaba seat while his colleague Tshinga Dube will clash with Peter Baka Nyoni.
Ndlovu, who was reportedly admitted in hospital in Harare last Friday, yesterday said he had fully recovered and the Bulawayo province was ready for the elections.
“I have fully recovered,” he said. “(Former Bulawayo provincial chairman Isaac) Dakamela is running my campaign and from the reports I am getting, things are going very well.”
Some of the perennial losers that have expressed an interest in taking part in the next election are Ndlovu, Absolom Sikhosana and Joseph Tshuma.
Others that did not take part in the 2008 polls, but have lost in previous elections, include Bulawayo governor Cain Mathema, provincial chairman Callistus Ndlovu, party national chairman Simon Khaya Moyo and Matabeleland North governor Sithokozile Mathuthu.
While Sikhosana is unopposed, Mathema, Mathuthu and the two Ndlovus will have to contest in the primary elections where party insiders say some senior members might face the embarrassment of defeat.
However, top officials who were nominated unchallenged include former Information minister and politburo member Jonathan Moyo (Tsholotsho North), Mines minister Obert Mpofu (Umguza), as well as Khaya Moyo, eyeing the Bulilima-Mangwe Senate seat. Some senior party members who lost in the 2008 election like Eunice Sandi Moyo and Molly Mpofu will not be contesting this year after they were seconded to the Senate on a proportional representation scale.
Zanu PF Matabeleland North provincial chairman Richard Moyo also said the structure was well prepared for the party’s internal polls.
In Matabeleland South, politburo member and former Member of Parliament, Abedinico Ncube, as well as two former Zanu PF provincial chairpersons Rido Mpofu and Llyod Siyoka will seek a return to mainstream politics after they submitted applications for primary elections over the weekend.
Ncube will battle it out with Orders Mlilo who won the 2008 parliamentary elections in Gwanda South, while Rido Mpofu will face competition from prominent businessman Madodana Sibanda and Jeffry Moyo.
Siyoka, suspended from Zanu PF for attending the infamous Tsholotsho Declaration meeting, will contest the party’s primary elections in Beitbridge West against Aaron Maboyi Ncube and the sitting Parliamentarian Metrine Mudau.
Both Siyoka and Mpofu were recently appointed advisers to chairperson Andrew Langa as the party sought to heal factional rifts ahead of elections. Senior party officials will also be challenged after only Obedingwa Mguni ran unopposed in Mangwe.
Home Affairs minister and Beitbridge East legislator Kembo Mohadi is being challenged by the district war veterans’ chairman Philemon Mbedzi, Johane Ndou and an R Tshili.
Zanu PF Matabeleland South chairperson Langa is being challenged by his long-time ally Patrick Hove and Gibson Siziba.
Six candidates are set to contest in Insiza North while nine will battle for the Umzingwane constituency.