Zanu-Pf yesterday threatened to come down hard on the warring party factions after fights disrupted internal district elections at the weekend and yesterday.
The ruling party was last week forced to postpone polls to choose provincial executive members following the eruption of violence, and the latest fissures show the failure by President Emmerson Mnangagwa to unite the party since he took over the reins from his predecessor, the late Robert Mugabe in a November 2017 military coup.
The party’s district elections are being held at a time when factions reportedly aligned to Mnangagwa and his deputy, Constantino Chiwenga, are gearing for senior party posts ahead of provincial elections.
Following Sunday’s bloody fights in Harare, Manicaland, Mashonaland West and Midlands provinces, angry party youths on Sunday besieged the Manicaland provincial offices baying for provincial chairperson Mike Madiro’s blood.
Over 200 party members, including war veterans, reportedly spent Sunday night at the party headquarters in Mutare demanding that either Madiro or the party acting national political commissar Patrick Chinamasa addresses them.
Madiro was on Sunday whisked away by the police and State security agents assigned to him as the situation got tense.
Yesterday, sources told NewsDay that Madiro met Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa over the disturbances at a hotel in Mutare in a bid to try and contain the volatile situation.
Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Associations national political commissar Joel Mureremba, who was part of the protesters, said they would camp at the party headquarters until their issues were addressed by Chinamasa.
“I am surprised that in Burma Valley, we were forced to have a re-run because comrade Madiro’s candidates had lost,” he said.
“We cannot continue to sleep as the party is being destroyed by one person and that is Madiro. We are now demanding to be addressed by our acting political commissar (Chinamasa) because comrade Madiro has failed to address us. We are camping here at the party headquarters and we don’t fear hunger. In Mozambique, we could go for many days without eating anything.”
Zanu PF Mutare district co-ordinating committee (DCC) secretary for youth Danmore Mambondiyani weighed in saying Madiro’s behaviour would result in the party failing to attract more membership to achieve the five million votes target.
“What chairman Madiro is doing will not give the party the intended five million votes, and we are not going to remain silent with the party being destroyed by one person. Everywhere, the structures are being manipulated,” he said.
“People, who are here at the party headquarters, are committed to the struggle and they have used their own resources to come from all the eight districts in the province. They are buying their own food and some are even struggling to get food, but they are committed to the struggle as they want the party to win in the 2023 elections.”
Madiro was not immediately available for comment.
But Zanu PF acting national spokesperson Mike Bimha said the party did not believe in violence and would look into all cases and ensure that “necessary” disciplinary measures were instituted.
“We all know that when there are elections, people jostle for positions, but we don’t accept violence. Any violence of any sort is condemned and we would want to take disciplinary action,” he said.
“We can’t run a party with violent people. There could be elements in our party who are like that, but that is not the picture we want to create. That is not Zanu PF because Zanu PF stands for discipline and order.
“Elections have circulars on how things are done and some unruly elements take things into their own hands. We condemn it strongly and we would want to appeal to people wherever that is happening, and say that the disciplinary code should take its course.”
In Gokwe-Nembudziya constituency, local Member of Parliament and Gokwe North DCC chairman Justice Mayor Wadyajena confirmed that skirmishes took place during the voting process, adding that resultantly, some machete-wielding youths were
Wadyajena said a driver and aide to one of the party’s senior officials in the district were arrested, adding that he had to go to the police station to rescue a party official who had been falsely accused by a rival camp. He said two officials linked to the senior party official paid admission of guilty fines.
“Ran to the police camp? I went as DCC chairman to solve the dispute between parties and in the process, secured the freedom of a kidnapped guy, falsely accused of hiding papers. The hired machete-wielding criminals were arrested and locked up. Gokwe North says no to violence and intimidation,” Wadyajena said.
In Wedza South constituency, Mashonaland East province, there was chaos in one of the wards after a secondary school teacher brought pupils to vote for him.
The elections had to be postponed.
In Mashonaland Central province, only part of Mt Darwin voted yesterday with the province’s seven districts snubbing the exercise alleging vote rigging.
Supporters told NewsDay that they were unable to vote during the week as they were at work and lamented “poor planning”.
Voting is likely to take place today in the remaining seven districts.