TWO candidates have pulled out of the race for the Zanu PF Bulawayo provincial chairmanship amid revelations that some party officials are begging the remaining candidates to withdraw and leave the incumbent Callistus Ndlovu unopposed.
The party has also directed that all central committee members intending to contest provincial elections should first resign from the organ.
Zanu PF Bulawayo provincial spokesperson Michael Sikhosana confirmed on Tuesday that provincial treasurer Simon Khabo and losing candidate in the Mpopoma parliamentary polls Joseph Tshuma had pulled out of the race.
Sikhosana said the provincial elections would be held either on November 23 or November 24 following a decision by the party to hold the polls in remaining provinces on the same day.
The withdrawal of the two means current deputy provincial chairperson Killian Sibanda will face Douglas Ndlovu and Tendai Ncube as it still remains unclear whether the incumbent will contest or not, but sources have indicated that he is not interested in retaining his post.
“There have been manoeuvres by some party officials to try and convince contestants to step aside and allow Ndlovu to enter unopposed. The party officials are saying those contesting against Ndlovu will be seen as not respectful of party leadership,” a party insider said.
The source also said a circular was received from the commissariat department three weeks ago directing central committee members to step down from their positions if they wanted to contest provincial elections.
“Ndlovu is a central committee member, so it means he has to resign from his position if he wants to contest for the provincial chairmanship. It means that he has to win at all costs if he resigns from the central committee otherwise he would become an ordinary member of the party,” a party insider said.
However, Sikhosana said he was not aware of the circular.
“What I know is that the constitution provides that if a member wants to contest for a post in that case, they have to resign from the position that they hold, but I have not seen the circular,” Sikhosana said.
Ndlovu could not be reached for comment.
There were reports that some senior party leaders had disqualified all contesting candidates for various reasons as they pushed for the re-election of Ndlovu unopposed despite his desire to step aside.