Zanu PF Midlands provincial elections were reduced to a sham yesterday following allegations of vote-buying and rigging by warring factions.
Youths from Amaveni’s Gutsaruzhinji district believed to be loyal to provincial chairperson Jason Machaya boycotted the elections after they were allegedly forced to plead illiteracy so that they could be assisted to vote.
“A group led by Emmerson Mnangagwa (Jr) wanted us to be assisted to vote because they did not trust us to vote for their preferred candidates,” said one youth who refused to be named.
“At least 34 youths we know went to school pleaded illiteracy and were assisted to vote. Some of us then boycotted the entire process.”
Amaveni is in Kwekwe Central constituency, which was won by Masango Matambanadzo of Zanu PF in the July 31 general elections.
Matambanadzo is a sworn enemy of party members allegedly aligned to self-styled Zanu PF godfather and Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa’s faction.
However, Zanu PF central committee member Douglas Tapfumanei dismissed the allegations saying Mnangagwa (Jr), who was elected into the provincial executive as the youth league’s Kwekwe representative, was a dignified person who could not stoop so low as to force people to plead illiteracy.
“Those allegations are utter rubbish,” Tapfumanei said.
“Mnangagwa (Jr) is a dignified youth who has brought respect and discipline within the rank and file of the party youths. I can tell you that he won those elections freely and fairly.”
In Mbizo at Chana Primary School, Tichaona Chacha (29) was arrested by police after pouring water on ballot papers trying to spoil them.
Chacha told Southern Eye from police custody that he was trying to liberate the party from the rot caused by factionalism and nepotism.
“I was arrested at Chana Primary around 3pm for pouring water onto the ballot box after voting had been completed,” he said.
“The people who were running the elections are loyal to Mnangagwa (Sr) and they have been using every opportunity to decampaign Machaya so I had to take a stand.”
Police spokesperson Lawrance Machingura refused to comment on the matter, but Tapfumanei said he was aware of the arrest and commotion at Chana Primary School.
“I’m in Mberengwa and don’t have the finer details, but I’m aware of the reports at Chana Primary School. We await the law to take its course,” Tapfumanei said.
Chacha is set to appear in court today, but was unrepentant saying he would use his last breath to liberate the party.
“I’m a loyal Zanu PF cadré, but rigging elections within the party should stop.”
“Candidates should win because they are loved by the people. We can’t turn the party to a dynasty dominated by one family,” he said in apparent reference to Mnangagwa and his son.
The polls for chairman are pitting Machaya, who has been linked to the Mujuru faction, against his deputy Larry Mavhima, a close Mnangagwa ally.
Exit polls showed Mavhima winning most of the votes in Kwekwe, Mberengwa, Zibagwe Chirumanzi and Gokwe as counting continued at a slow pace. Zanu PF had to postpone elections in Mashonaland West after reports of vote-buying and rigging.
A senior official in the party women’s league, Monica Mutswangwa, had to withdraw her candidacy in Manicaland citing rigging.
Meanwhile, Olivia Muchena, the Zanu PF political commissar in the women’s league, who is co-ordinating the party’s provincial elections in the Midlands, yesterday said final results of the polls would be announced on Thursday.
Muchena told journalists in Gweru that the results had been delayed by logistical problems as some constituencies were still holding elections as of yesterday.
“We experienced logistical problems in the province as there was late delivery of ballots in some areas,” she said.
“On Wednesday (tomorrow) by 2pm we expect to complete all electoral processes and then Thursday give the final results.”
Muchena admitted the process was riddled with irregularities, but was quick to point out that the elections were peaceful.
“Some names were missing from the ballot papers and these are the things we would rectify by Wednesday,” she said.
“The process was peaceful, there was no antagonism, it seems we have carried on with the spirit of the harmonised elections.”